What To Say (Or Not!) When Someone Tells You They Hired A Professional Organizer
It happens occasionally that new clients tell me about their friends’ reactions to the news they’re working with me.
“But your house is so organized!” My clients report people saying.
When they share this reaction with me, I smile and maybe I laugh a little. But I don’t really. Why?
I know what my clients do: behind closed doors and in the annexes of shared, visitor-frequented spaces, most people’s homes look a lot less perfectly organized than their friends realize.
Remember that most people who host guests go to great lengths to ensure that the spaces seen by outsiders do appear to be neat and tidy, clutter-free and clee-eeen. These rooms are staged and are the stage for social interaction; they reflect the owner’s awareness that they will be seen and judged accordingly.
Backstage it might be an entirely different story. You probably aren’t in the habit of opening up lots of cupboards and drawers and closets when you’re at your friend’s house because if you were that would be weird. But since my work revolves around doing just that I can tell you with confidence: once you pull back the curtains that are cupboard doors, drawers, closets and private chambers in most people’s homes, you’ll find significantly more chaos and clutter.
Your proclamation that someone’s space is organized may not be taking into account what you can’t or don’t see.
I know that everyone has a different standard for what “organized” looks like, and my clients’ friends’ reactions says far more about their spaces than it does my clients.
Everyone has a different perception of their home, a differing tolerance for disorganization, and a varying expectation of what “organized” looks like. Organized may not be organized may not organized, if you get me.
I’ve met with people whose spaces are so noticeably edited that another person–with a far more cluttered home–might laugh at the notion that such a streamlined space would require the coaching of a professional organizer. Yet that first person’s frustration at their space not reflecting the vision they have for it in their minds is no less valid than the second person whose home is filled with clutter.
Who is to say who needs help and who doesn’t? (That question is rhetorical.)
I know distinctions that many people commonly confuse.
Clutter, cleanliness, and organization are all unique entities.
It is entirely possible to have an organized cluttered home.
As it is possible to have a disorganized decluttered home.
And of course, all spaces have the potential to be dirty or clean.
(If you’re lost, you might be in need of a clutter recap.)
This isn’t me making mountains out of molehills–I’m not deeply troubled by friends and family possibly undermining the need for my services (no really, I swear, I’m not). I am interested in pointing out that there are ways we all unknowingly react to other peoples’ news about anything in ways that might not be entirely helpful, and might not take into account factors like individual perceptions or personal sensitivities.
But don’t we want to encourage each other to continue to improve ourselves and our lives? When we think about it, don’t we want to ensure our reactions are conveying our admiration and support, and not our distrust or judgments?
Hop on board the Help Is Good Train
The next time your very fit friend tells you she’s newly hired a personal trainer, you aren’t going to say:
“What?! You don’t need a trainer! You’re already in perfect shape!”
Because you’ll understand that her starting point bears little or no impact on her ultimate goals or her desire for help to maintain what she’s already achieved. Because you respect her inclincation to continually elevate, you’ll say:
“Good for you! Your commitment to fitness is totally amazing.”
The next time your friend–a boss lady running her own empire–tells you she’s going to be working with a business coach you won’t say:
“Ha! Like you need a business coach.”
“Wow, that’s great! It’s so cool that no matter how successful you are, you continue to want to learn and grow.”
Or, I dunno, the next time someone tells you they’re (super duper, majorly excited to be) working with a professional organizer, you won’t say:
“You’re crazy-pants! You don’t need no pro organizer, your house be like The Container Store!”
You’ll probably say instead:
“How cool. I’m so in awe of your commitment to organization.”
Image credits: photography by Michael Wiltbank via Domino, The Design Co., Domino, Chez Larsson, Kari Sigerson via Domino
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