Covid: How to talk to neighbors who break the rules?


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Your neighbors throw parties and their buddies are there all the time. Boris Johnson urged neighbors to talk to each other about the violation of rules on social gatherings before involving the police. But what exactly do you say when you knock on that door?

While it can be intimidating, psychotherapist and mediator Dr Mike Talbot recommends speaking in person to try and resolve the situation amicably, rather than putting hostile notes in mailboxes.

“People tend to avoid these conversations and leave them for too long, so they’ve gotten angry and it’s too late by then,” he says.

Conflict resolution expert Louisa Weinstein agrees that it is important to control your emotions.

“Try not to have old resentments – leave them at the door,” she says. “If you are feeling angry, it’s really important to take a moment to just breathe and try to empathize with the other person. Then there is less risk that things will escalate and worsen the relationship with your neighbor.

She says it’s best to try to figure out why they’re breaking the rules. For some, the directions are unclear, she says, but there might be other reasons to consider.

« [Some people] do not see this as a risk, others consider the risk to their mental health to be greater, others think that they may not be with their family for many years if they have elderly parents and are ‘they want to make the most of things while they can.

“It’s really important that even if you don’t agree with the other person, you just have to think about where they’re from. “

It’s a good idea to arrange a convenient time to chat, which probably means once the gathering is over, adds Dr Talbot.

He recommends using a conversational tone, perhaps asking people if they know the rules and listening to their point of view first.

“You can go in and start bashing people and being bossy, but you’ll probably get a short answer and it tends to escalate into a pretty intense conflict,” he says.

It’s important to remember the basics, says Dr Talbot, such as not raising your voice or getting too close and avoiding using words like “should” or “should,” as this can build momentum. a parent who tells a child.

It’s also best to tackle the situation on your own if possible to avoid sounding threatening, he says, and not to gang up on one person with a bunch of other neighbors.

When it comes to getting your point across, Ms. Weinstein says it’s about explaining the impact their actions have on you.

“For example, you might say, ‘I noticed you have more than six people in your house. When you do that, I feel very nervous and upset because I feel it puts people in danger, ”she says. .

“You can’t do anything to anyone, but if you’re human about it, you can probably make them see your point of view and give them the opportunity to change their behavior. “

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Dr Talbot says it’s best to have a conversation in person – from a safe distance

However, if the person is reacting aggressively, says Dr. Talbot, you can try to depersonalize the conflict. “Let’s say it’s not about you, it’s the situation we’re all trying to deal with here,” he says.

And if it gets to the point where you don’t feel safe, it’s always best to leave, advises Weinstein.

Dr Talbot says similar advice can be applied if you talk to strangers who get together in large groups in public.

But ultimately, the conversation will be easier if you already have a relationship with the person, he says. So try to prevent any problems by doing your best to get to know your neighbors.

“Some people never spoke to their neighbors before a conflict broke out,” he says. “It’s always better to have a conversation before you have a conflict because if you have a disagreement at least, you have a foundation to build on.

“Don’t let your first conversation with your neighbor take place when you have a conflict with him. “


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