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What My Clients Teach Me - Cont'd

April 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 184

Careful Observation - what do you see? What don't you see?

Meet George...George was one of my first clients and although we only worked together for one session he provided me with many lessons. George was interested in getting help with the amount of things in his small condo. In our initial phone conversation he shared a great deal of information including his experience with another Organizer a couple of years ago. He described that experience as frustrating and felt offended by what he heard the Organizer say. George recalled that the Organizer implied that he was lazy and unwilling to put items in other locations rather than stack them all in one place. When I asked him to agree to let me know if I said or did anything that he felt offended by during our work together he did so and excitedly scheduled our appointment.

It was obvious when I arrived at the scheduled time George was very nervous about the session. For approximately ten minutes we talked outside of the house with the front door closed. When I asked if he wanted to show me some of his house he took a deep breath and asked if I was ready, and I was. He took me throughout the house and pointed out areas he wanted to declutter. He made many self-defeating remarks and expressed frustration with not being able to get rid of things.

The Organizer's role:

1. Allow the client to make choices rather than be told what to do.

2. Begin hands on work immediately in order to provide the client with some sense of success.

3. Help the client to get rid of things by taking them with you at the end of the session.

As we walked through each room I made specific suggestions for how George might begin to reduce and prevent clutter. For instance, he stockpiled bathroom tissue paper and I suggested that he decide how many packages he felt comfortable with keeping on hand. He stated that four should be enough (his current inventory included thirteen packages) and would agree to try not to buy more until he was on his last four packages. George expressed shame and embarrassment regarding the amount of clutter and dust in all areas of his home. When we agreed to begin work in one area and focus on the shelves in the family room he insisted on dusting every item before it was handled. Although this slowed down the organizing process I observed that this was his way of being able to cope with letting go of items.

One of the key observations about George's level of difficulty with the process was his physical reactions. George's body visibly trembled and he broke out in a sweat as he talked about getting rid of file folders full of magazine articles he clipped and saved. There were a couple of strategies that I found to be helpful. First, I explained that he didn't have to throw them away and instead, could donate them to the library literacy program. Demonstrating that these items had certain value rather than treating them like trash helped George to feel less shame for having kept so many for so long. The second strategy that helped was when George couldn't decide whether to get rid of an item I suggested that we place it near the door for a decision later on, before I left that day. Moving the items out of reach but in sight, and allowing him time to go through the rest of the items without immediate pressure was a huge relief for him. He ultimately allowed me to take everything.

Summary:When a client shares a negative experience with a previous Organizer it is important to listen to gain relevant information. Do not ask the client to name the professional or the business. Ask the client to describe in as much detail as they can what occurred and his reaction to the situation. This will provide you with useful information and help you to assure the client that although there may be difficult points during the process you are there to help him meet his goals.

When a client demonstrates or states that they are physically and/or emotionally uncomfortable it is important to remain calm, non-judgmental, and not pressure them to make difficult decisions faster. Repeatedly, I observe that the clients who work at this over time become relatively more comfortable and tend to make decisions faster. They do this without being forced and begin to observe their progress and the momentum they gain from their accomplishments.

Take time to listen, let them talk, and ask open-ended questions. Give the client choices and options so that they know that you are there to help them take charge. Keep an open mind, open eyes, and open ears so that you know when the client is getting tired or frustrated. It's a good idea to take a short break. Don't be pressured by time, sometimes going slowly at first speeds things up later.

Interested in becoming an Organizer? Sign up now for training guides and tip sheets: Want to book a phone consultation? Call Denise 760-809-8851 today.

Source: EzineArticles
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