“Please excuse the mess!” If you’ve never looked into the psychology of words, the power of speech will surprise you.
Do you often wonder why your guests are uncomfortable when you invite them into your home? Is your house too messy for the company?
Choosing your words carefully when communicating is important. No matter what your story is, it’s time to take pride in your house again!
Listen to discover more about how language shapes our perception of reality.
Listen: Excuse the Mess
Watch: Excuse the Mess
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
Excuse the Mess
“You’re going to have to excuse the mess. We’ve been in the middle of...” Have you ever said that as the first words out of your mouth when somebody comes to visit you?
And you open the door and you say, “Oh, you’re going to have to excuse the mess. There’s stuff all over the floor. I’ve been working late. I haven’t had a chance.” You’re not going to do that anymore.
Why Do People Feel Uncomfortable in My Home?
Now, the question came in, “Why do people feel uncomfortable in my home?” The answer is because you made them feel that way when they arrived. So, starting today, you are going to remove the words, “Oh, you’re going to have to excuse the mess.”
From now on, starting today, that is never going to come out of your mouth again. Whether you’re the homeowner, or the house cleaner, it doesn’t matter.
If you have a home, it is your home and you’re going to take pride in it starting today.
What I Learned
So, I learned this from a realtor friend of mine. The realtor hosts what they call open houses and it’s for guests or buyers to come through a home that is on the market that they’re going to sell.
And so, it is her job to paint a picture of comfort, so if she were to open the door and say, “Oh, you’re going to have to excuse the mess. The people that live here didn’t have a chance to clean up before you came today,” immediately these people are going to go, “Well yeah, they didn’t, right? It’s kind of a mess.”
“Oh, you’re going to have to excuse the mess. The daughter moved some furniture and it scrubbed up the hardwood floor and they’re going to have to have it refinished but ignore that. It’s a nice house.” Already these people are looking for things that are wrong.
You Have to Paint a Good Picture of Your House
So, what happens is, her job is to paint a picture of, “Hey, this is an awesome house and you should live here.” Then, she goes out of her way to make sure that the house smells like hot cinnamon rolls.
She goes out of her way to create that smell so that the very first thing they smell when they open the door is like, “Wow, somebody’s doing some baking and that smells good.” That is her very first welcome to the home.
Then they see her and she’s like, “Hey, come on in.” And they’re like, “Well, okay. I mean, it’s an open house. That’s why we’re here.” And then she says, “Check it out. You’re going to love this house.” She didn’t say, “Oh no, shame on the house. These things have all fallen apart, and the dog chewed up the furniture.” She didn’t say that. What she said was, “Hey, come check this out.” It was a different invite into the home.
The Words We Use Paint a Picture
Now, the reason for this is that the words we use and the way we use them paints a picture. A picture that not only makes our guests feel comfortable, but it makes the way we feel about our own home change.
The reason I say this is because, especially around the holidays, there are a lot of people who will scramble to clean their house. They have a house cleaner come over and they clean their house, and they work for days and they tidy up and they made sure the house looks perfect.
And then the family, relatives or the guests come over, and they open the door, and the first thing they say is, “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to clean up the house. I mean, the holidays have been so crazy.” And all of a sudden, the guests are a little bit uncomfortable. And they don’t know how to respond, and they start looking for things that are wrong with the house.
There is Something Wrong With Everyone’s House
The truth is this. There’s something wrong with everyone’s house. No one’s house is perfect. There are little bits of this and that, that have fallen in people’s houses, or there are little dings in the floor, or maybe there’s poof that’s come out of a pillow or something like that.
Things are not 100% perfect. Nobody’s house looks like a Pinterest board. But instead of highlighting that fact, and making people uncomfortable, the best thing you can do is make them feel at home by taking ownership of whatever’s there.
I Learned From a Book Called Power Talking
So, what I want us to do is this, and I paid a lot of attention to this. This comes from a book that I read almost 20 years ago. It’s a book called Power Talking, and it is actually not available anymore. It’s out of print.
It is the reframing of those conversations, so you end up inviting people into your home and they have the best time they’ve ever had.
This is one of those cases, where we are going to remove the negative feelings that surround our own insecurities when we have guests come over and we’ve been scrambling to try to make the house perfect for them.
Train Yourself to Say Nothing
So, if you’re one of these people, I know I am, I don’t know why. If my family comes over, I scramble for days to make sure the house is perfect.
So, when people come over, you open the door, and I’ve trained myself to do this. Open the door and say nothing. Open the door and give a great big sweeping motion like, “Come on in.”
And then they get inside, and now you have a chance to collect your thoughts, and you say, “Hey, I have a perfect coat rack that has been waiting for your coat. Can I take your coat from you?” And they take off their coat and you hang it up, and you say, “Can I get you a cup of tea? Come on in. Let’s go get you a cup of tea.”
Don’t Start the Conversation in a Negative Way
And without apologizing about your house or your space, or how busy you’ve been, or all these negative things that start the conversation off on a negative complaining bend. Which then, that’s where it goes.
If you open the door and you start by apologizing, guess where the next 45 minutes go? It goes to nitpicking and complaining, and them, trying to fit in. They try to fit in by complaining with you. “Oh, I know. The holidays, it’s been so hectic. It’s been so chaotic.” And suddenly, you’ve gone down this dark path.
But if you start out by welcoming them in, almost like the realtor, “I know I’m going to sell this house,” people are so thrown back by that. They want to take part because they feel at home.
Reframe the Words That You Use
So, reframe the words that you use, reframe the vision that you create about your space.
Because not only do you change it for other people, but you change it for yourself, and you get to live there, even after the guests go home.
So, remove, from your vocabulary, starting today, the words, “Oh, you’re going to have to excuse the mess.” There’s no mess. This is the way you live. “Welcome to my home.”Resources
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