If you have a disagreement with your neighbour or cannot get along with them it’s usually in your best interests to resolve it as quickly as possible, before it has time to fester and escalate, and there are a number of things that you can do to improve the situation, both in advance to pre-empt problems, and when they occur.
Firstly, I make a point of introducing myself to new tenants who move into the flat below ours, which is let and I am always friendly and polite, offering that they can call on us should they need anything. This often pays dividends because having had some positive contact with them, if there are problems further down the line, it makes it much easier to resolve them.
I find that it’s always best to talk politely and remain respectful towards neighbours and if they are upset or angry to stay calm, take deep breaths, maintain eye contact and listen to them. Maintain an ‘open’ body posture. Take what they are saying seriously, however trivial it might seem, it’s obviously important to them. We often naturally want to be defensive in conflict situations, but try to resist this. If you are feeling uncomfortable because of the way in which a neighbour is talking to you then ‘own’ this and tell them how you are feeling. It can be useful if someone has a raised voice to raise yours to the level of theirs, then gradually lower yours and often they will do the same.
Don’t put up with someone being rude or offensive to you, however, tell the person that you are not prepared to talk with them until they can engage with you in a civil way and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
If your neighbour has constructive criticism of you on the other hand, be prepared to think about it, assess if it is valid, and if so, be willing to take action and do things differently. Say ‘sorry’ if you feel this is appropriate. This can go a long way towards encouraging them to calm down and reduce any anger or aggression.
Finally, if you generally get along well with your neighbours and any problems are minor try not to be too precious or defensive about your property. We are territorial creatures and it is wired into our DNA to be so, yet does it really matter if your neighbour’s rubbish is spilling over onto your property, or your fence is buckling because your neighbour has leant something heavy on it from their side? You can’t take your property with you when you go (move house or to that other place at the end of life), and isn’t it better to have been a bit more relaxed about such small inconveniences rather than make a big deal about it? It’s likely that if you relax more about such issues your neighbour will do the same should you err into untidiness or un-neighbourly behaviour on occasion.