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Our Grand Designs: The Trouble With Neighbours 

By  Lysette Offley

Our Grand Designs: The Trouble With Neighbours. Photo of Grand Designs magazineMany of you are aware that we’ve been building a new house and that it was covered by Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme. And therefore many of you will know of the difficulties we overcame – not least of which were the complications with the neighbours. (If ever there was a euphemism for ‘trouble’ that description was it!)

Well, one morning a few weeks ago, I actually got to meet one of them – the one who wrote remarks underneath a video about learning skills I’d put up on my YouTube Channel. I was convinced by the language, tone and content that the comments been written by a young person, not an adult. But he’d written his name, so this particular morning, since I had the opportunity, I said hello.

It didn’t go well!

He said he didn’t want to talk to me. He criticised me personally – my character, my actions, what I’d said on TV about the neighbours. Of course, he doesn’t know me – we’ve never met before. I guess his assessment of me is based on what he’s been told by certain other neighbours, who we also barely know – and who repeatedly refused to talk to us each time we offered them the chance to help us decide how to build, in order to minimise the impact on them.

I defy him to find anything I did or said in the TV programme that is aggressive, derogatory or disrespectful to anyone – and goodness knows we were stretched to the limit of our tethers at times!!

He’s acting from fear and from beliefs, generated by misinformation and downright lies. We’ve even heard some of them.

I’ve heard we’ve sold the house because we can’t afford it…

But here’s the best one…

I’ve left my husband, sold the house and gone back to my first husband (you know – our architect, the one who abandoned the project half way through, leaving us in serious poo!)

Apparently no one likes me, no one wants to talk to me and no one wants us on our road!

Hmmm… really? REALLY?

And yes, of course it says more about him than it does me. He doesn’t even know me! And maybe his behavior towards me was indeed more in keeping with some of the stories we’ve heard about him!! Ha ha – what it is to live in a small village!

Anyway – the point of mentioning this to you?

I didn’t feel heard nor understood. I thought he was wrong and above all else it felt unfair. Most of all, I don’t think I achieved what I intended – to become a real person to him – so that he thought twice about spreading rumours. So I felt thwarted too.

He wouldn’t even stay and speak. He walked away, talking over his shoulder. Of course, he has his own way of controlling his environment and feeling safe, just like the rest of us. Why do you think I said hello to him? That was my way of controlling my environment too, wasn’t it!

I was in shock, but at least I knew not to take it personally, even though he was using language that suggested I should!

His accusations didn’t belong to me. I was simply standing in a road with a misinformed and frightened person. And within moments, I was cheerful again, and looking forward to the meeting I was going to.

I won’t be intimidated. I shall continue to say hello to him and everyone else too. I’m not going to be sucked in to his world. The neighbours? Most are lovely! The ones we know are anyway.

It feels good to be able to let something go that was potentially upsetting and could ruin the whole day if I let it.

And the more I practice what I preach on my Advanced Thinking Workshops, the easier my life is.

Fancy that!

Lysette Offley

With 40 years of experience, Lysette Offley is a Memory and Mindset Coach to women and men at the top of their game in the Financial Services Industry who recognise the value of continual personal and professional development and support to achieve a healthy work-life balance, along with satisfaction and fulfilment.

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