DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor recently took up the piano. He practices every evening. Sometimes it is pleasant. Other times it’s annoying, as he is not good at it yet. But I admire his tenacity. It’s pretty cool seeing an adult take up an instrument.
I don’t play anything, but I do like to watch TV, and my wife and I watch a lot of movies and stuff on Netflix. Sometimes we binge-watch shows well into the night. We try to keep the TV at a respectable volume, but you know how some movies are -- there are loud scenes with music, gun fights or other loud sounds.
My neighbor has begun to complain about the noise from my TV. He even went so far as to speak to the super about it. I was appalled. I have endured his music well into the night -- or even during the day, when I don’t want to hear it. I have never once complained. And now he’s trying to get me in trouble with the building. How should I handle this? -- Too Loud
DEAR TOO LOUD: Before letting your anger get the best of you, knock on your neighbor’s door and ask if you can sit down and talk. The goal of this conversation should be to come to a compromise that both sides feel comfortable supporting. Tell your neighbor that you received the formal complaint from management, and you thought it best to talk face-to-face before going down a more formal road.
Tell your neighbor that you know that you sometimes play the TV loud and late, and you will try to be more conscientious of the time and volume moving forward. In turn, tell him that you are sometimes bothered by the constant piano playing. While you never mentioned it before, it does irritate you at times. Ask if he can curb playing at certain times in exchange for you lowering the volume.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am working on a project for which I had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. I did so, and I don’t have any reason to talk about what this company is up to. Or at least that’s what I thought. But I’m noticing that as I talk to my friends about the work I am doing, I sometimes share bits here and there about this project. My friends are just regular people and not in the media or anything, but still, I’m wondering if I should be saying anything to anyone. It’s hard to work on something and not be forthcoming about the project. My friends are accustomed to me telling stories. How can I manage my friends and this NDA at the same time? -- Shhhh
DEAR SHHHH: When you sign an NDA, you need to take it seriously. It is a binding legal document that states specifically how you are to protect the intellectual property to which you become privy by virtue of working with the company. That likely includes details about the project and the people with whom you are working.
How you handle this with your friends is by telling them that you have signed an agreement that forbids you from talking about what you are doing. Apologize for not being able to share juicy tidbits the way that they have grown accustomed to in the past. But stand your ground. Change the subject. You never know what might happen if one of your stories gets relayed to the wrong person.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)