I’ve been a professional organizer for over 25 years now. I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of people, and I’ve been in hundreds of houses in the Bay Area. I am pleased to say that a high percentage of my clients are living happily ever after in their much more organized homes. However, there are those clients, who choose to go a different path…they take my expert advice, and then choose to ignore it.
Initially, when I would run into this particular client, I would feel bad. How have a failed this person? What else could I have done or how could I have explained things differently so they would “get it”? It took me a while to understand what was really happening with this type of person, and once I understood them, I stopped thinking that my way was right and their way was not. I consider this my greatest achievement as a professional…it has taught me to really listen to people and to determine what is they REALLY want and then try and help them get there.
There are variances on this theme with each client…it runs all the way from the “okay, prove it to me and maybe I’ll do half of it” client, to “nope, not doing that, no way, no how” client. There’s the client who won’t make a single change, even though they’ve told you they are desperate for things to be different. There’s a client who wants to argue every point to prove themselves right. There’s a client who is afraid of what their spouse will say, and a client who is insulted that you would suggest they not keep shoes and cutting boards in the same cabinet.
A couple of weeks ago we unpacked a wonderful family in a beautiful house in Marin. On my first visit to the new house my client said, “I know exactly where I want everything to go”. Okay, so tell me where you want things to go…and inevitably, I want to make changes to where they want to put things. So, I ask for permission to discuss alternatives, “are you open to suggestions”…fortunately, clients are most always are open to hearing my suggestions, whether they take them or not, is in the end up to them.
Our last client advised that she was up all night moving everything that we had placed in her new house the day before. However, she was okay with this because at least we gave her a head start of knowing where she did/did not want things. When I looked at things that had been moved, I realized that many of them were moved just for the sake of moving them…but it was an important act for her, establishing herself in her new house.
One of my favorite clients has turned out to be someone I never expected to hear from again. I left their house totally drained, having to wrestle with them over every suggestion and thinking that I would never see any “after” photos on this project. Lo and behold, shortly after I received a delightful email explaining how much my visit had opened the doors of communication between them and how they were working to improve not only their living environment but their marriage as well!
I’ll take the victories anyway I can get them…