For anyone who has seen the Stackenblochen video, you’ll understand that the German stereotype of order, routine and cleanliness is one based on ever-so-slightly exaggerated German habits. However, there is usually truth to every stereotype and if you put the German Stackenblochen video next to any American country music video ever made, you’ll see the stark contrast between German order and demand for high quality and American… well… wearing overalls in a F150 pickup truck with a blind dog in tow.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always allow you to “trade out” for a better, more orderly alternative whenever you encounter something contrary to your own moral and hygienic ideals. You can’t always change the thing that drives you nuts and most of the time, it’s just learning how to deal, especially in the workplace.
However, the writers of this blog have stumbled across some essential tricks of the trade when it comes to influencing others to be more organized. Here’s a few approaches you can try:
1. Step back for as long as your slightly OCD habits can allow. If you let this person waste away into the mess they’ve created for themselves, they might finally hit a wall and ask for help in changing their ways. Might.
2. Play to their ego. We all know that they best way to make someone change a course of action is to let them know how much you really need them to, in a “man, everyone is just going to love you forever if you do this” kind of way.
3. Act like you’re training a three-year-old. You know how a lot of people will label EVERYTHING in their child’s play area? This drawer is for barbies with blue dresses, this drawer is for barbies with red dresses, this drawer is for barbies that got a “hair cut”… Upgrade this to adult status. If you can visually train someone to know that there is a proper place for everything and a certain way to plan, they may learn to take joy in fulfilling their new organizing tasks.
4. Suck it up and organize for them. If you really HAVE to have it a certain way, you may just always need to be the one responsible.
But, like in every exchange between people, in business or otherwise, we all have to accept that the only person we can change is ourselves. If you happen to be a neat-freak and your co-worker Sandy is a slob, you may have to just live with it. All we can control is our reaction to other people’s mess and lack of organization. So, the next time you come into the office and Sandy has post-it notes scattered across her desk, pens and bottle caps littering the floor, and sticky spots on her desk from yesterday’s can of Coke Zero, just breathe. There are hints you can leave – a bottle of Windex placed on a chair, a stick of deodorant placed, ever so carefully, in a desk drawer – then cross your fingers to hope these hints are heeded.
But unfortunately, friends, we must concede control. Some people are a mess, and we, the fresh and clean, must sidestep as we can.