I've known for a long time that my overly organized self can be intimidating. Believe me, it's not intentional, but rather the culmination of a lifetime of neat freak habits that are now akin to breathing. We organizers can't help it. Better yet, we don't know that we're always doing 'it'. The straightening up. The organizing and re-organizing. The constant cleaning. The heavy sigh that leaves our lips when we see something out of place. I blame it on some underlying psychological need for control, thus, our tendencies help us make sense of our space in this world. Therefore, in an effort to make the awkward less so, let me share with you some behaviors that can help you (and your tedious friend) be a little more comfortable around each other.
For the less organized folks:
1. Ask before acting & put it back
Most organized people just like things to return back to their designated space, no more, no less. Remember, as I said, it helps us stay grounded. As their friend, respect their need for order, even if you don't agree or understand it. By no means am I asking you to adopt their methods, just appreciate their efforts - the time and energy it takes to create and maintain their meticulous systems. Consider it a courtesy to ask them where something should go when you are finished with it. When in their domain, defer to them. An ounce of mindfulness goes a long way with us.
2. Don't condescend
Yes, we like praise for our organizing abilities, but please don't make us feel 'less than' because we seem more 'uptight' than you think we should be. We already hold ourselves to some extremely high standards; adding more disappointment from our friends and family might push us over the edge. We, the organized, are generally bad at this - we tend to think everyone should be as organized as we are. Be better than us and hopefully we can learn a thing or two from our wonderful friends.
3. Use the coaster. No harm, no foul.
For the overly organized folks (myself included):
1. Stop organizing everything
Yes, it's our second nature. We do it in our sleep. However, not everyone wants their clothing folded just so, their stacks of whatever sorted and recycled, or unsolicited organizing advice. Simply ask before going into organizing mode, and don't just assume your way is the right way all the time. Your peeps know you are the organized one, so let them come to you if they want your assistance. Otherwise, use it as a lesson in acceptance so chaos and order can live in harmony, just like in nature. You could probably use a little mess in your life anyway (see #3).
2. Don't condescend
Yep, just like I asked them, I'm asking you. I know its difficult, but when you're around your friends and family, don't patronize them for not being organized or neat like you. They might feel self-conscious already because of your personality. Instead commend them on creating a free-spirited environment, or ask for pointers on how you could relax a little more. Yes, relax.
3. Learn to appreciate a little mess
Embrace living in the moment. Order has its place and time, but so does messiness; it's a sign of a well loved and lived-in home or space. Consider your priorities: is the need for neatness or organization greater than having healthy relationships? Keep in mind that the point of organizing is to be efficient so you have time for the important stuff. Don't let a little mess get in the way of enjoying your life!
Any other suggestions? How do you temper the tension when it comes to organized vs. not organized?