In my classroom, there's a student who wants to keep the curtains closed/drawn all the time. When the sun starts peeping in through the windows, she draws the curtains, keeping the sun out.

As an outside person who is claustrophobic, I feel extremely congested in a room where I can't see the sun. Many other classmates also want the curtains drawn away so that we can see the sunlight. The classroom has a lot of light, but it's the electric white color which looks nothing like the warm glow of the sun.

Whenever this classmate draws the curtains, closing out the sun, I try to tell her that I'm claustrophobic, and that I don't like the ugly whiteness of the electric lights, but she says she absolutely hates the sun, and that she just won't keep the curtains drawn away. This irritates me, but neither my other classmates nor I am able to do anything about it.

Am I right to ask her to do this? Or is it wrong to ask her to draw them away, as she doesn't want the sunlight coming in?

If I am right, what should I tell her so that she keeps the curtains drawn away from the windows, happily? I want to do it politely, with no shaming or anything else that might hurt the other person...

I'm from India, and I study in 11th grade.

  • 1
    Where is your teacher? The teacher should decide. Beyond that, why does she want to close the curtains?
    – user3169
    Aug 22, 2017 at 0:10
  • "How to convince someone..." is not about interpersonal skills, it's about getting your way... You might want to rephrase your title.
    – user3169
    Aug 22, 2017 at 0:11
  • @user3169 Thanks for your earnest feedback! Is it better now?
    – Abhigyan
    Aug 22, 2017 at 0:55
  • 1
    Many people have issue with certain bright light triggering headaches, particularly if it is reflecting off something like a white wall. Perhaps she has such an issue. If so, it's also possible to wear darkening glasses to assist with that. I have headache issues. At home I draw my drapes as it is more comfortable, but if we have people over, I can open them and wear glasses. My kids are used to it and my spouse doesn't mind, so I prefer them drawn. It's more comfortable. I would prefer my neighbor paint their home a dark color so I can open my shades, but that is life.
    – threetimes
    Aug 22, 2017 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


She doesn't like the sun; the rest of you do. Absent a pressing reason (like a medical need) to favor one over the other, you're going to need to either compromise or find ways to solve individuals' problems without affecting the group as much.

I suggest you ask her what, specifically, bothers her, so you (plural) can see if there's a way to solve it. Does she need a seat farther from the window? Would a standing screen by her desk solve the problem for her? If the group can find a way to meet her needs and yours, you all win. You should, by the way, be prepared to address questions about your specific needs too -- are there other ways to alleviate your claustrophobia?

When you have this conversation it's important to not come across as confrontational. Your goal is to, together, find a solution that works for everybody. It's not about winning or losing.

I've had similar negotiations about environment with coworkers over the years -- often about light, sometimes about noise and temperature. I've gotten the best results when I approach an issue as my problem that I'd like help with, and when I propose solutions and ask for input, and when I make it clear that the other person's comfort matters to me too. In my case I have problems with fluorescent lights (they give me a headache); last time it came up I approached it roughly like this:

Hey $officemate, I was wondering if we could find a way to adjust the lighting in here. I'm sorry to trouble you with this, but I'm one of those unlucky people who sees the flicker in fluorescent lights and unfortunately it gives me a headache pretty quickly. It's particularly bad when I'm reading or working at a computer. [Which our jobs revolve around.] How attached are you to these lights? Could we try using a couple incandescent pole lamps instead?

In your case you're on the other side of this discussion, but the approach is the same -- explain the core problem (not just "I like light"), acknowledge the inconvenience to the other person, propose solutions, and be open to experimentation.

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