We love the lake that our cottage is on. But recently, a new family moved in, and they like to party, listen to loud music outside, and create a campground sort of atmosphere. How can we be friendly, yet let them know that the rest of the people on the lake want to enjoy the quiet?
—Not Loving Thy Neighbour
“This is always a delicate situation,” says Suzanne Nourse, an etiquette and protocol expert and the co-author of The Power of Civility. “Be prepared. Be calm. Be nice. Assume the new people aren’t intentionally trying to offend you.” Bring them a welcome gift, or invite them over to your cottage for a visit. Avoid accusatory language when you broach the subject. (“You’re doing this; you’re doing that.”) And use humour if you’re good at that kind of thing. You want to come off as likeable and kind, not uptight and preachy. These people may have no idea that you feel their parties are disruptive. If they’re new to lake life, they may not even realize just how far sound can travel over a body of water.
Don’t storm over in the heat of the moment or “with a delegation of 12,” says Nourse. “Don’t bring a posse.” This smacks of Angry Villagers With Pitchforks, and it will just make your new neighbours resentful. “You’ll get absolutely nowhere by being confrontational,” says Nourse.
Hopefully, the newcomers will be receptive. The next time the music gets too loud, you’ll feel comfortable simply asking them to turn it down a few notches. (And they’ll be happy to comply, because they’ve met you, and they like you.)
But here’s the thing: sharing the lake with others means…sharing the lake with others. That probably involves at least a few barking dogs, loud boats and PWCs, screaming grandchildren, and, yes, parties with music. “Some people come to the lake for peace and quiet, and some people come for fun and frolic,” says Nourse. “That’s just life.”