Not Messina Around.
My college roommate and I get along very well--except for the mess she leaves on her side of the room. Her desk is littered, her closet won't close, and she does the bare minimum to clean up. When my parents visited, I told her we should clean. No change! (The most shocking part: On her roommate form, she described herself as "clean and tidy.") How can I politely motivate her to pick up?--Megan
YOU PROBABLY CAN'T. Still, there are some valuable lessons here, starting with: Talk is cheap, and roommate forms are even cheaper. People will generally ascribe positive values to themselves, such as honesty, cleanliness, and hard work, regardless of actual fact. As for your roommate, the goal here is to strike the best possible compromise with her, not to get her to yield to your wishes. You are not her supreme leader. Say: "The clutter on your side of the room is stressing me out. Is there anything I can do to help you keep it tidier?" Then talk it out. --Adapted from "Social Q's" in The New York Times Magazine
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