I rummaged through our questions from last week and noticed they most all fit into certain categories:
How to talk to X about Y, so I achieve Z?
- How to ask a friend to do professional work?
- How to ask ex to not be too personal
- How do I ask my Dad to finance my computer?
- How do I approach telling my date that I won't lend her money?
- How to determine if someone is busy or just doesn't want to spend time with me?
How to talk to X about Y?
- A birthday greeting
- How to discuss that I have codependent behavior?
- How to voice my concerns to a friend with mental health issues?
- How to ask cashier out for date
- How can I tell my wife that her fears and mistrust are hurting us?
- How to ask someone not to lie?
How to talk to X?
How to achieve Z?
- Father wants me to give him my work number and I don't want to
- How can I "chill" about my position on game rules without looking like I'm just "taking my ball and going home"?
- Hard to have productive political discussion with significant other
- Boyfriend always responds "I didn't mean to" when he gets feedback
- Dad wants me to invite his mother to my wedding. How to push it back?
- How should I deal with my friend's anger issues?
- How can I switch a conversation from a language to another?
- how do I get back in touch with my estranged mother?
Yep, that's a massive list. And those are just a selection from last week's questions.
Now, don't get me wrong, but I thought this was an Interpersonal Skills stack, not an Interpersonal Problems one. Right now, I think this stack has a problem.
Looking at the extensive list of questions above, they often aren't so much about Interpersonal Skills as about solutions to Interpersonal Problems. As in, often they invite answers saying 'just explain it like you did here' or 'use your words', which comes with several 'try this' answers giving variations on the same sentence. We often have to poke answerers to explain how or why their solution works, and even then it doesn't become clear which Interpersonal Skill is at the bottom of the answer. Good Subjective, Bad Subjective provides six points for a good question, out of which 4 focus on the kind of answer that is to be expected. In other words: A good question invites good answers, and our current questions don't seem to be doing that.
As was said in chat by Cascabel:
I'd be wary of questions where the OP doesn't really know the root cause, because it invites a lot of guesswork.
If the OP doesn't know what Interpersonal Skill they have a question about, how are we supposed to focus our answers on explaining an Interpersonal Skill?
Also, another chat message from Shog9 that made me think:
And communication between people is a fine topic for the site. As long as you're focused on what you do and not what you're trying to get someone else to do.
We do have a 'questions require a goal we can address' policy for a while now, but I can't help but wonder if the 'goal' is often not just 'wrong' for this site, because the goal is getting someone else to do something?
I am wondering if 'How to talk to X about Y to achieve Z' or variations of that should be held to a higher standard than they are now. Yes, solving an Interpersonal Problem may require learning a new Interpersonal Skill, but since I often see questions where the answer focuses on things very different from Interpersonal Skills, I think 'How to talk to X about Y to achieve Z' might need a bit more scrutiny.
I found some example questions that show it is possible to ask about a specific Interpersonal Skill, for example:
- How can I learn to be a good active listener?
- Does talking about mildly taboo topics with people normalize the subject for them?
- Is there any research showing whether sandwich feedbacks are more effective than other forms of feedback?
- How to non-verbally communicate that I am listening?
- How can I prevent an appearance of micromanaging someone?
- What impact does "mirroring" have on other people?
- Does prefacing an insult with a "softener" make it any less rude?
IMO these are about a problem a specific person has with a specific Interpersonal Skill (at least, that's what I interpreted them like), and a much better fit for this site.
Should we be more critical of 'How do I talk to X about Y to achieve Z' types of questions?
Are they a problem for this site?
I'm not saying we should make all these questions off-topic, but how do we make this a site to focus on Interpersonal Skills instead of Interpersonal Problems?