Aaah, yes. It always comes down to a person’s thought process as they complete the task. Everything we do is driven by the way we think; our fears, hopes, challenges, priorities, motivations.
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a lady who was very frustrated with the way her husband would always go into the walk in wardrobe, open the small’s drawer to take what he needed, get down some jeans, lay them over the open smalls drawer as if it was a pants-holding shelf, grab some other jeans and walk away.
What I read between the lines was: After he’s thought about what he has to do today, had his shower, chosen his clothes, he’s already bored with making decisions and the choice to hang up the trousers is more effort than it’s worth, they can stay where they are and be dealt with later (didn’t even notice the inconvenience of the drawer than now can’t be shut)
It’s never about just the stuff, is it? It’s always about the people who put it there! We love the people we live with. People before things, ALWAYS.
1. First things first. I reminded her that a person’s reason to do something isn’t usually to annoy the people they live with. This man wouldn’t snigger as he laid the jeans carefully over the open drawer and walked away. We all want the people we live with to be proud with us. So the first step would be to talk honestly and let him know how you feel, that you’d be pleased if he could hang that pair back up again every time [don’t forget to add] just like how helpful it is when he [puts his dishes straight in the dish washer? Mows the lawn? Hangs up his bath towel? Keeps the car running?]. Saying “thanks” for those things now, and at any other time, goes a really long way! How much do we take for granted nowadays?!
2. Next, if muscle memory and habit continue to rule the show, try putting a little note at the scene of the crime… “I love you, it makes me happy when you hang your jeans back up”. It may sound a little naff, but this reminds them that there are many things they do that make you happy. NOTE: Make sure you biff the note after a day or two, otherwise it turns into nagging.
3. The last resort is to move something so that behaviour is no longer easy. Move where you keep the smalls, swap it out with another thing more seldom used. Conveniently keep most of the jeans ‘in the wash’ so there’s less choice and more space on the rack. Try to never have so many things stored that there’s no free space left and things need to be shoved sideways to fit stuff back away again. Only 70% full is a good target. Putting things away should be super easy, or nobody’s gonna want to do it. Thank them again and again for other things they do so they remember how easy it is to please you.
It’s so easy to only see the negatives in the people we’ve lived with for years. How do they know we still love them?
This week try finding 3 things that please you about your family/friends/workmates and let them know it makes your life a little easier. It may be the only nice thing anyone’s said to them all week. And as a bonus, it’ll make problem solving go that much smoother!