Community + Relationships

Why it’s Good to Know Your Neighbors

  • Whether it’s because you became friends or simply say “hi” every now and then, knowing your neighbors creates a sense of community and helps you feel less isolated
  • Being friendly with neighbors can be especially beneficial for busy lawyers, as those you trust can cover for you when you’re at the office late or must travel for work
  • Knowing your neighbors makes your living situation better overall by keeping the neighborhood safer and more peaceful

Picture this: You wake up one morning and realize your refrigerator has died.

When you call the repair company, you’re told a technician can come today at 2 p.m. or you’ll have to wait until next week. Unfortunately, because there’s no way you can make the 2 p.m. appointment work, you’re forced to wait—which means you’re also forced to throw out hundreds of dollars of spoiled food in the process.

If you knew your neighbors, though, chances are things could have played out differently.

Whether it’s because neighbors you trust can cover for you when you can’t escape the office or simply because it’s nice to have someone to stop and chat with while you’re checking the mail, it’s a good idea for all lawyers to get to know their neighbors. Here are five of the best reasons why.

A Sense of Community

Working long hours like we do can be isolating, especially if you live alone and the vast majority of the contact you have with other people is with coworkers.

Getting to know your neighbors can help foster a sense of community where you live, whether it’s in a high-rise condo building or in a single-family home. You don’t need to become close friends; simply saying “hello” and chatting every so often makes a difference. As a lawyer, you probably want some proof of the importance of community, so: Studies show that people who know their neighbors (even just by making small talk) are happier and healthier than those who don’t.

Expanded Social and Networking Opportunities

Unless you make the effort to get to know your neighbors, there’s no way to determine if they might prove beneficial to your career—or if they know someone who might be a good person to connect with. Neighbors can be valuable additions to your networking efforts, both in terms of recruiting business for your firm or even providing future employment opportunities.

Similarly, making an effort to get to know your neighbors can expand your social circle, which can be great if you’ve relocated to a new area or even if you’re single and dating (who hasn’t heard a story about neighbors meeting, falling in love, and getting married?).

Think of people you’ve met when walking around your neighborhood. Have you ever uncovered a mutual friend or overlapping interest? How about an industry link or business connection you both shared?

Someone to Cover for You

Remember that refrigerator example from above? Getting to know and trust your neighbors can provide someone to help you out in a pinch. Whether it’s letting in a repairman, feeding your cat when you have to travel for work, or anything else, your neighbors are close by for help when you need it most. Neighbors you know can hold onto your spare keys for when you lock yourself out or provide a jump when your car battery dies. And there’s a bonus: When you help your neighbors out in return, you’ll feel good for having provided them support.

A Safer Neighborhood

In general, there’s nothing bad about multiple sets of eyes and ears keeping tabs on a neighborhood. This is especially true when you travel, whether for work or for fun. Being able to tell your neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you’re away can go a long way toward making you feel safer without having to hire a house-sitter. And in the case of an emergency, it’s nice to know there’s someone familiar you can go to for assistance.

Helps Keep the Peace

We’ve all had those neighbors who held late-night parties or blasted music at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. If you know your neighbors, however, they’re less likely to be loud, rowdy, or invade your space, which means they’ll generally be less stress-inducing than neighbors you don’t know – and who among us couldn’t use less stress? If your neighbors do happen to throw a loud party when you’re trying to catch up on much-needed sleep (or necessary work), if you’re on good terms, it’s easier to approach them about quieting down.

What's Next

Start small. Next time you see a familiar face—even if it feels a little awkward to do so—say hello. Keep it up for the next few weeks, and pay attention to how making even brief small talk with others makes you feel.