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Ask Udder Smith: Nosy Neighbors

December 6, 2010

Dear Udder:

I’ve had it with my neighbor — she gives me “advice” on everything, from what time I should bring my laundry inside (3pm) to what I should feed my children (30 different foods every day).  I have tried to just greet her pleasantly and walk away, but she always detains me and then starts up.  I resent her interference.  What can I do?

Trapped in Nigata

Dear Nigata:

One of the most difficult things to maintain is harmony among neighbors. In the effort to preserve good relations, I advise you to adjust your own perception.  As the Dalai Lama said, “Negative emotions are the source of unethical behavior.”  I realize your neighbor’s actions are annoying and unwelcome, but you can not change her.  You can only change your own negative emotion.  Try thinking of her as a lonely old woman whose own children do not visit her; perhaps it is true, perhaps not.  Either way, if it makes you see her with some sympathy or compassion, it will be beneficial.  Whenever she dispenses irritating advice, smile and change the topic to herself, by asking a question about her life.  And remember: you do not have to follow any of her advice.  Smiling, nodding, and completely ignoring her words is perfectly acceptable.

Best wishes,

Udder

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