The Power of Nice

The dust has settled, the episode of Hoarders aired. If you’re curious, you can check the episode out here, along with deleted scenes and pictures.

General consensus from friends and random posters alike has been “Yep, they were mean.” Granted, what was seen was only a snippet out of 3 days worth of shooting, but yeah. Mean. Despite drawing on the internal reserves of compassion, despite making jokes, you still have days when you have to power through a situation with people that are simply not nice. That was a situation where the things mattered more than relationships, things mattered more than safety, things mattered more than health and sanity. I want to say that can twist a person, but if one has gone that far, they’ve already passed twisted.

Twisted or not, how do you help? How do you reach them? Honestly, sometimes, you just can’t. They have to keep digging that hole (or heaping that pile, as the case may be). Once you back away from the idea of even reaching them, it puts you in an odd headspace. You step outside of the situation and start to watch, start to listen, and start to see where stated intent and behavior match up and where they don’t. Sometimes, an idea may bubble up from the observations, like Dorothy deciding to have the sidewalk sale to appease the notion of making Tons! Of! Cash! off of the items in the hoard. Other times, you hang back and see slivers and glimpses of all kinds of pain, and realize the best thing to do is let it ooze and try not to get any on you. (it’s not personal. it’s not you. you’re just a convenient target.)

What would have made things go better? Acceptance. Part of why I give the side eye when people say ” Oh, you should come help So-And-So, they could use it!” is that unless S0-And-So sees it as a problem, then it’s not a problem to them, and I am merely in the way (and a symbol of the well meaning party’s meddling). Things seem to work best when the client sees their situation as a problem, and decides to accept help in addressing it. At that point, I become a tool to help them get what they want. They’re not fighting against me, they’re working with me. Just that little shift in mindset changes their behavior so much.

The lack of venom makes it easier to hang on to hope, to charge the air with a little bit of inspiration. When you’re not feeling beaten down, it’s easier to look at a daunting situation and see possibilities, and share them. The simple power of being nice can change the feel of a project. It can signal welcome to outsiders that have come to help, inspire openness to share new ideas on how to approach a situation. And in particularly hairy situations, it can be the anchor you hang on to just to make it to the end of the day.