Life is Interesting. Actually, people are interesting. Sometimes this is fascinating and enjoyable. Like the [insert a story here] Then, there are the other times. You know, the downright frustrating times when you are beside yourself in disbelief that another person could be that rude, unkind, impatient or any other slew of vices we as humans are capable of. Boiled down, people can be difficult.
In our line of work we meet people from all sort of backgrounds and histories: successful career people who are chronically disorganized, some with a clinical diagnosis for hoarding or PTSD. Those who are type A, type B, ADD, ADHD and OCD. Often times, people are easy to please and satisfy. Yet, sometimes they are difficult. Rich, middle class and poor, we meet them all and difficult people can happen anywhere!
What is the common denominator? They are all people! That’s what makes this job so interesting… and challenging… and rewarding. It is the number one reason I love organizing, I’m helping people; every person whether celebrity, local hero, or hero only to their family is all the same inside. We want to be happy, healthy, and we want our family and friends to be happy and healthy. At our core we want to feel important.
So, when I’m working with someone I keep that in the forefront of my mind. How can I make this person’s day better? How can I help them feel important? If this person is particularly grumpy, frumpy, disgruntled or otherwise having a bad day, chances are very high it started before I arrived on the scene, it has nothing to do with me, and I am experiencing their overflow. I make it a game; how can I show love to this person, hear them? How can I make them feel important?
I am more than bringing calm to the chaos of a space or event. I am helping to bring calm to a situation, organizing is very rewarding this way. I have found a change in their attitude happens the majority of the time. Once this shift happens, it is much easier to find them interesting and fascinating, which in turn, makes them very enjoyable to be around and work with. At the end they not only are more organized, they feel happier, like the sun came out after a rather stormy day.
How about the arrogant person, who knows everything? Chances are high they are masking a fear of failure or lack of confidence. Cut them some slack and bolster their personhood. Maybe they will let down some of the arrogant garb they think they need to succeed and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you made a positive difference in someone’s life, even if it is just a seed for change.
At the end of each day, we’re all people being made beautiful. Helping someone get simplified and organized in streamlined systems and categories is one way to create beauty. But, I see that as only one facet of organizing. Organizing our client’s hearts with grace, compassion, humor and validity is a beautiful thing too. Don’t let difficult people ruffle your feathers, find a way to see them beneath the exterior and see the interesting and fascinating pieces that create them special.
· Look for something you can give a genuine compliment about. Flattery is easily recognized and seldom appreciated.
· Use the phrase, “I hear you”.
· Take ownership. If you made a mistake, apologize right away and admit your error.
· Look for something to foster good will and ask about it. E.G people usually love to talk about their kids, their pets, their hobbies.
· If someone is upset, let the person finish venting. Then validate their concern with affirming words such as, “I hear you,” or “I hear you are frustrated, I would feel the same way myself if I were you.” Most often, someone who is frustrated needs to simply be heard.
· A driver cuts you off, or someone won’t let you in. Take a breath and slow your own pace down. No need to drive close to someone in a bad mood, they might do something else erratic or unsafe. I like to settle into traffic with good music or an audio book.
· The person on the other end of the phone sounds like they are getting angry or impatient. I find it most helpful to say something along the lines of, “I’m so sorry. I think there may be a misunderstanding and it sounds like you may be frustrated. Have I said anything to upset you?” Nine times out of ten, they recognize they need an attitude adjustment, apologize themselves and you discover they are just having a bad day too.
· Show empathy by asking questions, “How is your day going?” “Can I help?”
· The person checking out in front of you is rude to the cashier. Make a positive comment to them when it is your turn. Don’t gossip about the grumpy pants, just affirm that you see how hard they are working to satisfy customers. Or, if they were rude back, just empathize with having a hard day. “Man, is it Monday? It must be hard to always keep a positive attitude. I know I find it hard sometimes.”
Organizer and Lifestyle Management guru