Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ASK LAUREN August 19, 2009

Brian in Alaska asks, We have this really pushy neighbor. She totally tells us what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. She is really generous, but she gives us things we don't really want or can't use. She would be mostly friendly if she wasn't so pushy, and Stephanie wants to make sure we are on good terms with the neighbors. I really can't stand her, but recognize we wouldn't want her for an enemy. How to handle her intrusions into our business?

Ooh, excellent question! I too have a nosy neighbor. She is kind of a, how do you say? Bee-otch. Yes. She is. But that is another story. In addition to being mean, she is also just nosy and very chatty and the kind of person who takes a "Hi, how you doin?" to mean an invitation to a 30-minute conversation. And by conversation, I mean she talks for 30 minutes while I nod my head.

Usually I just try to avoid talking to her whenever possible. You don't want to really piss her off, because, as you said, she's still your neighbor. You don't really want to rock the boat or do anything to make her mad. I'm sure she is a nice person with good intentions, she just takes it too far, to the point where her "advice" might sound patronizing and commanding.

So avoid her if you can. If John gets caught talking to our neighbor, I usually go rescue him by telling him I need his "help" inside. If you do have convos with her, keep them short. Make a point to end the conversation with an "I'm sorry, but I have to (check on the kids, go inside, etc etc)". Basically, you have to train her not to talk to you. If you're outside and she starts talking, go inside. Move to the other side of the house. Say you need to concentrate on what you're doing. You need to get her to subconsciously understand that you are not friends and you don't really want to talk. If she tries to give you something, say that you don't need it/can't accept it/already have one and go inside immediately. Don't give any concrete excuses or any information about why you need to leave the yard, go in the house, not accept her castoffs. Just leave. This way, she won't have any info to latch on to, you won't necessarily be lying, and she will be forced to redirect her pushy ways elsewhere. Maybe to her other neighbor. Score one for you!

If that doesn't work, say something that will shock her so bad she doesn't want to talk to you anymore. I used to use this all the time on my parents. (Haha, JUST KIDDING MOM! (or am I?))


Anonymous said...

That advice will work if the person has your personality. But for most people, it will be hard to do. Brian or Steph (I think) is not the type to walk away, because they don't want to be perceived as rude....even by strangers.

Julie said...

Lauren, my mom's neighbor is exactly like yours--coming home from college, I fell victim once or twice to his one hour monologues. This is a tactic I started to employ, and I highly recommend it to you and Brian: when you see the talkative neighbor in his driveway, place your cell phone to your ear and pretend to talk as you step out of your car. Now, all that is necessary from you to remain a nice neighbor is to wave and mouth "hi" to the offending person.

I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier. I will never get those two hours of my life back.

ohmypuddin said...

@Anonymous I'm confused by your comment. You're saying that this advice is not great because it's what I would do and not what someone else would do. Pray tell, whose advice should I give? I can only speak from my experiences and my opinions. I can't actually be Brian and Stephanie and do what they would do. Brian asked me because they don't know what to do and want to know what I would do. So I told them.

@Julie Great idea! I've certainly used that one too.

Stephanie said...

I read your blog pretty regularly, but somehow missed this post! :-) How fun.

Our neighbor recently asked for something back that apparently she lent, not gave. I had to tell her Brian took it to the dump. Surprisingly, that did not deter her from offering a Halloween decoration after noticing that our house was bare for the holiday. Ah, neighbors...


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