On Mastering All Organizing Styles

There is this mantra among professional organizers you’ll hear all the time. One way it’s often presented is: “You know, having some message discipline is important in an organizing drive. And you know, it’s important to really nail down your organizing/conversation fundamentals. But really! What is capital-i Important is that you find your own personal organizing style that works for you. Finding your personal organizing style is what will make you masterful.”

Woah, what horseshit! Fuck that.

The masterful organizer who has honed their craft is a chameleon, fluent in all organizing styles, and able to pull from whatever style is most appropriate for the situation.

(There’s a reason mixed martial arts is so badass.)

Take a Chatty Cathy. How does an organizer build a strong, effective relationship with a Cathy? Get their story, get their workplace issues, and agitate, sure. But Cathys bond over deep values in storytelling, so when an organizer meets a Cathy, the masterful organizer will make sure to give particular attention to (1) listening deeply, (2) uncovering deep values, and (3) sharing stories back to the Cathy to bond over the Cathy’s deep values — which in other situations, professional organizers might tend to avoid (talking too much is bad, it’s about the worker, not the organizer), but here with a Cathy, it’s absolutely essential.

There are situations where a masterful organizer will become an “alpha” (which requires being able to exude [1] positivity, [2] respect, [3] trust, and [4] the sense that the alpha is truly listening/cares). There are situations where a masterful organizer will become more of a blank reflective mirror, listening, asking open-ended questions, and repeating back what they hear. There are situations where a masterful organizer will be super positive, super negative, ask more questions, ask fewer questions, be loud, be soft, be aggressive, be less aggressive, etc. It all depends on the situation and the social dynamics.

“Just be your authentic self.” What lesser organizer thought! Everyone has multiple shades to themselves, and masterful organizers should be able to empathize with all those shades within themselves to connect with virtually all other people and their multitudinous shades. But hey, “just be your authentic self.” Ha! Okay, in my book: just an activist.

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