Is This the Worst You’ve Ever Seen?
Or sometimes it’s worded, “you’ve seen worse, right?” There’s this inner need among most chronically disorganized clients to know that they are not the worst I’ve ever seen when it comes to clutter. I’m not sure where this comes from. Perhaps this is social comparison theory playing out in the world of clutter which states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of domains (for example, attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success)1 including clutter.
This doesn’t mean that I dismiss the clutter of the person asking the question. I may say, no, this is not the worst I have ever seen, but that’s not the point. The point is that this level of clutter is interfering with the quality of your life, affecting your health, preventing you from doing the things you love, so let me reverse the question…” is this the worst condition your home has ever been?” And, “Are you ready to do something about it?” Those are much more important and useful questions to the client and to me.
I do not put emphasize remembering the clutter of the homes I work in; I remember the people. Usually, this answer is not what people are looking for; they want to know that they are not the worst I’ve seen. To that, I say: In the worst, I’ve ever seen, the homeowners didn’t ask that question.