Based off this meta Intra-personal questions are off topic.

So, when looking at this question I voted to close as off-topic because it seemed to be dealing with an intra-personal issue. The question was tagged Anxiety and Self-esteem, and outlined OP having difficulty communicating with people who have a stern face (which on it's own is not a communication problem). There were no other interpersonal factors with the problem however, this close reason was challenged because OP clearly outlined some interpersonal skills as the desired type of answer to the question. Because the only identifiable problem is an intra-personal one I still don't think that any IPS answers can provide an adequate solution but just because I don't have an answer doesn't mean that nobody does.

Are questions about an intra-personal problem, asking for an interpersonal solution off-topic?

Fairly similar to this meta, especially since the highlighted question is also dealing with a sort of nervousness. The difference is that I am specifically asking about when OP outlines that they want an interpersonal solution.

1 Answer 1


I believe a person admitting to have an intra-personal weak spot getting in the way with them developing their inter-personal skills doesn't turn the question into an intra-personal one (off-topic) automagically.

If the question's clear and exclusive objective is, on contrast, to address their intra-personal issue, then yeah, off-topic.

As an example, a person stating they are speech impaired trying to communicate with their siblings' kids shouldn't stop us from offering strategies, because the disadvantage is context, so an answer should not focus on that, in this example, we wouldn't say "go to a specialist doctor, my brother had this trouble and had an operation and now he doesn't have this trouble", a good answer would offer inter-personal strategy to maintain a child/kid attention despite the speech disadvantage.

The confusion comes from the fact that many(most) times people are dealing with emotions (like guilt and frustration) that come from the result of their lack of skills and end up phrase things in a way that sounds off-topic like "how can I learn to speak better?" (confusing, you just said you have a speech disadvantage, we can't operate you here). They are simply showing their willingness to take responsibility and act.

I saw something similar in this question, where OP explains that he wants to ask his friends and coworkers to ignore the birthdate written on his documents because his real birthday is on October, but the person ended the text with "how can I make myself happy?"

By all the information he had provided, many helpful answers were possible and in order, but his question might still be on hold because of his phrasing considered poor quality by SE standards. The comments offered to him didn't help much in that regard. That's just one case of many similar cases I've seen, but I think there's still a solution, for example canned answers that don't sound dismissive and invite the OP to rephrase their question to focus on how their current interactions are failing and causing a problem, or even better, if you detect or have a deduction of the main interpersonal situation, ask the OP if that is in fact the main thing and suggest them to edit the text for their own interest, to avoid confusing answers full of "why you this, why not this other thing" ending on discussion.

  • I like this answer, and while I actually agree with essentially everything said I will keep my close-vote on the referenced question. This is because I feel that OP can communicate perfectly well in normal cases and the only stated difference and obstacle is their intra-personal issue and I don't see a way to answer this with IPS. So although OP does intend otherwise, I would still classify this one question as having a clear and exclusive objective to address their intra-personal issue... since they can communicate fine normally, what interpersonal issue is there left to help solve?
    – Jesse
    May 11, 2018 at 6:08
  • Being able to speak swiftly and write good emails doesn't mean he's always able to communicate his message across effectively, regardless of the intra-personal alternate issue that he has made obvious as being influenced by these events and his failure to get a desired result. Make no mistake, as helpless as it seems, it is indeed possible for him to reach the desired goal with interpersonal skills.
    – J A
    May 11, 2018 at 6:21
  • Wait, you didn't vote to close my referenced question, you meant your referenced question, the one with the lady who wants to be able to deal with stern looking people, well, I already provided an answer, you are failing to see how interpersonal skills are made to overcome intrapersonal shortages at many situations.
    – J A
    May 11, 2018 at 6:26
  • Sorry, yeah I meant my own referenced question interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/14328/…
    – Jesse
    May 11, 2018 at 6:32

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