There is a time when verbal communication fails us as a means for airing our differences. Especially when one side has indifference in their agenda. The question is, what would you do in a situation like this?
It’s a two flat in the middle of town. A family lives upstairs and a family lives downstairs, below them is the basement with washers, dryers and storage. The adults upstairs allow their children to run back and forth, the length of the apartment. These are not young children, high school and above 5th grade, they have some weight to them. The hardwood floors transfer this pounding in a thunderous manner over and over again. One of the downstairs tenants asked politely if they would not run in this way, because the thin ceiling transfers a lot of noise. The husband said he would, the wife said that she should not have to ask her children not to run. On the night that this discussion took place, the entire family came in like storm troopers, with guests, and stomped through the apartment until they likely grew tired of the behavior. A report to the owners was all that was left. They informed the owner that they were having a party.
Since then, they have not stopped. In fact, they have jumped, banged, stomped from one length of the apartment to the other day in and day out. Someone even went to the basement and banged on the ceiling, hitting the floorboard of the tenant below. They were heard running up the back stairs after the banging stopped. When they tire, walking becomes normal (by sounds of just creaking floorboards), yet it seems each night that their desire is to provoke some sort of reaction. So on and on, they pound and pound from one room to the next. One night after the family below went to sleep the neighbors above pounded until everyone awakened, the elderly family member below was awakened 3 times by pounding. This elderly woman thought that she was just having a hard time staying asleep, but to not cause her fear, the daughter did not tell her what was causing her to lose sleep. The next morning, the elderly mom was exhausted leaving for work. The greatest reaction that these pounding neighbors have received is a continued hello from the tenants below when entering or exiting the building at the same time. The mom upstairs made it clear that she is not in the mood for peace, as she does not speak, the husband speaks uneasily. They are trapping themselves in their own tension.
What reaction do they want? They could desire disunity. They may want to cause confrontation. They may want the peaceful tenants to create noise (in response) that they can then report to the owner or to some other authority. They want attention. They may be trying to get the tenant below to move. Whatever it is they are trying to do, the fact of the matter is, they have created a toxic relationship where one should not exist. At this point the ball is in the disruptive adults court, because stomping, banging, running and jumping all the time when they could spend their time enjoying their home has to be exhausting. Nothing positive can come from negative energy.
What the adults are teaching the children is worse. Children should not be used or taught to agitate others. Modeling this behavior that they see in their parents will become the norm to them as they age. A memory trigger of how something was handled, may find them repeating these actions later in life and the consequences could be bad for them. In a time when so much else is going on, families have enough to worry about than to come home and find a war behind hidden walls and ceilings. Children should be taught that a neighbor, especially one in as close proximity as the same building, can be a powerful asset during times of need. Neighbors can be a helping hand during disaster, a trustworthy person to receive a package, a warning sound when something suspicious has been heard or seen. Neighbors around the world have been there for each other for many reasons.
Whatever becomes of this situation, the peaceful neighbors are determined to live and let live. The neighbors above continue to make the building sound like the walls are going to fall down, and sure the tenants below are baffled, but they are typing on their computers, washing clothes, cooking, eating at the dining room table, doing homework, taking baths, cleaning, taking showers (even as they stomp on the bathroom floor) and living their lives. Yes, sometimes they are waiting for them to leave to know what peace sounds like, but they never stopped living. How much living could you be doing while you are conducting a marathon or marching band parade back and forth until you tire, then all over again? That answer is easy, not a whole lot, your time is consumed in the perception that you have won over (powered over) others by disrupting their lives. Your mind is consumed with the negative thought of bothering others. Sure they hear you, you need attention and you’ve made that clear, they wish you would stop, but the attention that is desired is driving you more crazy than them.
Silent opposition in this case, has become a more powerful communicative weapon. In silence, things have been accomplished. A teacher gift has been wrapped with the thought of how wonderful that teacher is (positive). A prayer has taken place with a child as he/she left for school (positive). A meal has been cooked (positive). A task has been accomplished (positive). A spouse has been kissed (positive). A child has just been told that the noise they hear above are people living their lives differently, in order to keep them innocent from the negativity that is really going on (positive).
We’re confronted with negative communication all the time. The question becomes, what do you do? Whatever you decide, remember to think about the consequences of your actions for you and others around you. Those agitating types may feel like they’ve won by getting your attention,, however your time and precious life are wasted plotting, scheming and responding negatively to them. You’ll feel more empowered realizing that you cared more about your sanity, while Mr. or Ms. Negativity continue to sulk in behavior that is life consuming and a drain on energy. They may even drain the energy of others around them by convincing them to work against you. However, you stay the positive course. The new Star Wars movie is upon us, so it would be befitting to urge you to never choose the dark side. “May The Force Be With You.”
I have been told, “You are sitting on gold with that mind and voice of yours.” So I use it to inspire others. Until next time, I’m Nicole Cabell.