Practice Positive: 3 Things to Stop Saying to Your Home’s Visitors

published Feb 9, 2014
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

I’ve had two guests come to my new apartment since moving in a couple of weeks ago, and before they had the chance to compliment the space on its many positive attributes, I apologized (because it wasn’t fully furnished yet — ridiculous, I know). It’s a bad home habit I’ve cultivated over time, and one I’d finally like to break this year.

I’ve always thought that having a clean, put-together home (code: perfect) would make guests feel the most at ease, but I’ve found that the most comfortable homes I’ve visited have been the ones where the host was perfectly content with whatever level of cleanliness or disarray their house happened to be in when I stopped by. Who didn’t point out every negative thing about their home before I had even hung up my coat. Did I notice sometimes if there was an unfolded laundry pile on the couch or a few dishes in the sink? Sure. But I forgot pretty quickly when the host spent time catching up with me, laughing about something and generally not focusing on every negative aspect of their house.

Mentioning things you’re insecure about could be considered a way to sort of put it all out in the open. But because being happy in your home is an ongoing journey that requires commitment to cultivating positive thinking, I tend to believe focusing on the good — not the unfinished — is the way to go when guests arrive. Here are three things I’m going to try and stop saying or doing when I invite folks over (and even if they drop in unannounced).

1. “Sorry for the mess”
First of all, is it actually a mess? Or do you have like, one throw pillow off center and a pair of shoes near the door? Even if it is a total mess in your eyes — how likely of a chance is it noticeably messy to someone else? And even if it really is a hugely disgusting mess, why point it out? If someone brings it up (probably don’t invite them again), feel free to explain you’ve had a busy week and then move on to wowing them with your charming personality.

2. “You’ll have to excuse…” (all the projects you can see that need doing/finishing but your guests probably haven’t noticed)
This is similar to number one. Yes, to you that loose doorknob and unfinished light fixture is glaring. But again, it’s about not calling attention to your home’s minor flaws and championing all the things you have DIYed successfully. I’m going to try to start drawing a guest’s attention to a recently completed DIY project that went well instead of give them a long list of all the things I still want to complete.

3) Not accepting any praise and deflecting compliments
Accepting praise and compliment is difficult in many areas of life for plenty of folks, and that can often stretch to the home. Saying “it was nothing” or that “someone could do it better” aren’t the way to go. Neither is being sarcastic or immediately trying to turn the conversation back to the compliment giver. Deflecting compliments by putting yourself and your home down is actually not very kind to the person giving your home a (probably well-deserved) compliment. Next time a guest says something nice about your home, consider smiling big and saying “Thanks! I really appreciate you saying that.”

Do you say and point out negative things to guests when they first come into your space? Or have you rid yourself of that habit? Or do you think giving attention to the things you’re insecure about is a good habit to have?