The phrases that make me cringe and smile

23 January 2017

A professional organizer's least favorite phrase

When I’m working with a client, a few phrases make me cringe when I hear them come out of the client’s mouth. And a few make my heart sing.

I think my least favorite phrase is:

“For now.”

As in, “I’ll keep that for now.” To me, saying “for now” indicates that the client isn’t committed to keeping something. And if we’re dealing with a lot of clutter, hanging on to items that don’t deserve a commitment is counterproductive (to say the least).

Whenever I hear “for now,” I push back. I ask the client when s/he will know it’s time to let the item go. Or I ask, “What would it feel like to let that go now?” Or I just pause and look at them calmly, hoping they’ll realize that keeping something for now might not be in their best interest.

I also dislike hearing a client give these three (very common) reasons for keeping an item:

  • I paid a lot for it
  • It was a gift
  • I might need it some day

(Keep an eye out for a series I’ll write soon countering each of those reasons.)

There are a couple of phrases I hear that make me smile. Topping that list is:

“I’ve been looking for that!”

I probably hear that at least once a session and it always feels so great. I know how thrilled I am when I find something I’ve been looking for in my home and I think clients have usually been looking longer and feeling less hopeful they’ll ever find it.

I also love hearing the ubiquitous, “This feels so great!” And “I feel lighter!”

Helping someone lighten their load by decluttering is such a rewarding way to make a living. If I never heard a client utter “for now” again, I’d be thrilled. That’s not going to happen, of course. But once we get past the “for now” part of the session to the “this feels great!” part, I know we’re on the road to making a huge difference in the client’s life.

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For some people, holding onto items involve strong emotional ties that can’t be broken with simple logic. Not to say that every client needs to become your patient under your new therapy practice, but really digging in and seeing the real reasons behind keeping clutter and doing your best to breakthrough can really chance someones life.

Clutter Control LLC 02/07/2017 08:59 AM

I agree, Clutter Control LLC! And what I’ve learned in a dozen years of doing this is that you sometimes can’t tell what is going to resonate with the client and where you’re going to break through. But it’s always very rewarding when it happens.

Janine Adams 02/07/2017 10:28 AM

That’s one of my favorites too! “I’ve been looking for that!”

Hazel Thornton 04/05/2017 03:54 PM

It’s music to our ears, isn’t it? Thanks for commenting, Hazel!

Janine Adams 04/05/2017 06:23 PM

Realizing that there are boxes I haven’t unpacked since my last move, I’m tempted to just throw them out. But, maybe my passport is in there. Inspiration to go through them!
You were such a help and inspiration when you came to my home in Des Moines about 10 years ago, Janine.

Cathy Wilkinson Barash 09/23/2017 10:26 PM

Can you believe that was 12 years ago, Cathy? It was so valuable for me to be able to help you when I was starting out. Thank you!

Janine Adams 09/24/2017 11:04 AM

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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