Asking a neighbor to spare some flour is often found to be intimidating- but why? It used to be a common occurrence in past generations, but now it seems that we’re stuck in this world where we’re always looking down on our phones- comparing ourselves to others, worrying about being judged by the way that we dress, what kind of car we drive, our social status- so we may not always make the extra effort to make friends with our “stranger” neighbors. What if they judge me? But our neighbors are our immediate community, so we’re hoping to help change that perspective and help you feel more comfortable being neighborly.
Just in case you’re ready to initiate a relationship with your “neighbs”, we’re offering some painless ways to break the ice. We hope that some of these tips will help you gain the courage to dive into new community friendships!
Observe (don’t creep)
Try to notice when your neighbors take walks, then plan your walk around the same time to intentionally cross paths. You can start with a simple hello, or even ask to join them.
Smiles & hellos
We hear it all the time- a simple smile goes a long way. Eventually you’ll feel comfortable enough to say hello and make some small talk. Start small and work your way up to a conversation to avoid awkward interactions.
Random acts of kindness are great ice breakers. Bring over fresh baked goods, mow their lawn, weed their garden, offer to pet sit, ask if they need anything from a grocery run- the opportunities are endless.
If you’re like me and love to host dinner parties, plan one for your neighbors! If you don’t feel comfortable offering the invite in-person, you can make cards or flyers to put in their mailbox with an open invite. Keep it casual with drinks and finger foods, or fancy it up with a full course meal! This is an opportunity to bring all of your neighbors together, or just one at a time.
As I mentioned before, we’re used to digitally communicating, often making it uncomfortable to communicate in person. If this hits close to home, don’t fret! That’s where resources like Nextdoor come in. It’s a great way to connect with neighbors and share news about your community online. Then you can ease into a potential friendship with your neighbors, and maybe feel comfortable enough to meet up in person.
Spend time outside
It’s hard to meet your neighbs if you’re inside your home the whole time. Hanging in your yard will increase the chance of a casual encounter, especially if you make your front yard a hangout spot. Perfect time to add that front porch swing you’ve always wanted!
Most places offer newcomer clubs or other community organizations that you can join. Volunteering or showing up to community events will expose you to more people in the area- even if they’re not your immediate neighbors, they’re still a part of your community. And maybe someone you meet will know one of your neighbors and be able to introduce you!
Ask them for advice
Friends or Foes
However you get your new neighborship started, you will at the very least be investing positive energy into where you live. Maybe you planted the seeds of a long-lasting friendship! Maybe you tried and it was not reciprocated. Or maybe you met all of your neighbors and you have nothing in common. You don’t need to be best friends, just amicable- you are stuck with them for the long haul anyway.