I love to laugh and bet you do too! In fact, I always smile at people when I’m walking outside and find that they smile back at me. It makes me feel really good when that happens. Generally speaking, I’m a happy person and tend to look for the bright side in every situation. Because of this I find that incorporating laughter into organizing sessions is one of the strategies I can use to help my clients make lots of progress. Let me give you the best reason to use laughter.
Right now, I’m visiting my son and his family. They have a 3 ½ year old daughter who continually makes me smile and an 8-week-old baby boy who is just precious. My granddaughter and I do silly things together that make both of us break out into deep belly laughs. This laughter is wonderful medicine for my soul.
Benefits of laughter
More than being medicine for my soul, laughter in general is good for you. When you are engaging in those deep belly laughs you bring more oxygen into your body. This is good for your brain, heart and lungs.
The best reason to incorporate laughter into an organizing session is that laughter can also reduce stress and anxiety. This article from the Mayo Clinic talks about the fact that laughter can help reduce symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety.
We know that the very thought of an organizing session can be stressful. If you can incorporate something fun, something that encourages laughter, into the session you can ease the tension and reduce the anxiety your client may be feeling.
Find a video or a picture
Finding something to laugh about may help a person be happier. When your brain is stuck cycling through a negative thought, finding a funny video on Facebook to watch (maybe more than once or twice) can replace that negative vibe or mood with a more positive outlook.
Quite often I will spend a few minutes easing into an organizing session by sharing a funny picture with my client. It may be something I happened to see on social media or it may be a personal photo. Whatever it is, the purpose is to take the client’s mind off themselves and onto the task at hand.
We look at the photo or video, break the tension with a bit of laughter, and then ease into our organizing session for the day.
Laugh at yourself
Do you laugh at yourself? Finding the humor in what you do can be a very freeing adventure. I do goofy things all the time. When I do them, I shake my head and have a little laugh over whatever it is that I have done. Usually, it’s a silly mistake. You see, I’m a very literal person and as such I follow directions exactly as they are given to me.
Once, when I was living in Singapore, a friend of mine and I were dying t-shirts for the children in a school production. She told me to put the dye in the water. I did. She forgot to tell me to empty the contents of the package into the water. We had a good laugh over this mistake. I think my friend was laughing so hard, tears rolled down her face.
This was a silly mistake and I laugh every time I think about it.
Create a safe space for laughter
It was ok for me to laugh at myself with my friend over my mistake because I felt safe. If there had been other people, particularly people I wasn’t comfortable with, this could have been an embarrassing moment for me.
Create a safe space for your client to laugh at themselves when you are working side-by-side. Finding an over-abundance of one item can be something to laugh about particularly if most of the items are in a state of bad repair. If you and your client can share a laugh over this, they may be able to discard the broken or unusable items easily.
You will be able to sense when it’s ok to have a little chuckle. Be aware though that somethings are simply not funny. Pay attention to your client’s body language and follow their lead.
Making fun of someone
There is a fine line we walk when we laugh over mistakes people make. It can be funny until it’s not. I’m sure you’ve experienced the moment when all of a sudden the laughter stops and the mood becomes serious. Then you realize you are about to hurt someone’s feelings. Try to stop before that happens.
Laughter and a team
When you have a team working at someone’s house make sure you let the team know they are to be silent as they work. Give them good directions to start and then let your team know you are available for questions.
You do this because you don’t want your client to hear anyone talking. The team member may inadvertently make a comment that the client misinterprets. Either that or the team may share a private joke and start laughing. This may lead the client to think the team is laughing at them and then be embarrassed.
Have a fun happy moment full of smiles together as a team when you begin the organizing session and again at the end when you re-group to celebrate the successes of the day.
The best reason to incorporate laughter into an organizing session is that laughter can reduce stress and anxiety. This helps you to make your client feel safe with you. When your client feels safe it’s easier to make tough decisions.
Remember though that laughter can backfire. Watch your client’s body language and follow their cues so they continue to know that working with you is non-judgmental and safe.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization. Diane and Jonda Beattie are the best-selling authors of: Filled Up and Overflowing.