What is the Sandbox?

This "Sandbox" is a place where InterpersonalSkills.SE users can get feedback on prospective questions they wish to post. This is useful because writing a clear and fully specified question on the first try can be difficult. There is a much better chance of your question being well received if you post it in the Sandbox first.

To post a question to the Sandbox: Post an answer to this post with the content of your proposed question. You can create as many answers as you have proposed questions, but it is recommended that you only work on one question at a time. The content of the post should be as close as possible to the format you would use when asking on the main site. If you would like, you may add a section at the bottom explaining what parts of the proposed question you are most worried about (See the WorldBuilding Sandbox FAQ for more information on suggested syntax).

Once you have posted your proposed question, users will be able to comment on it with feedback. You can then respond to their feedback with comments of your own, or make edits to your post to attempt to address their feedback (after editing, be sure to comment to notify the user that you have taken their advice). The feedback/edit cycle can go on for as long as needed until either you are confident that your question is ready to be asked on the main site, or you've decided the question just won't work.

When you think your question is ready for the public, go ahead and post it to the main site. To help keep this sandbox clean, you should edit your post here so that it contains the title and URL of the posted question, and nothing else. Regardless of whether or not you decided to post to the main site, once you are done with your Sandbox post, you should delete it. This will not completely delete the post, but it will get it out of the way so that new proposed questions can be more easily located.

Keep the Sandbox clean. In order to keep the Sandbox clean users are encouraged to look out for questions that have not seen any activity in some time. If you come across a question draft that has not seen any activity from the author in the form of edits to the draft and comments as responses to other people's comments you should leave a comment. In the comment you should ask if the user is still working on the question draft and remind him that his post might be deleted in the future if there is no further activity. If you see a question draft that has not seen any activity for at least 30 days and that has had a comment asking if the author is still working on the question draft for at least a week you should flag the post for moderator attention and ask for deletion. This helps to keep the Sandbox clean in cases where the author has abandoned his question draft.

Delete your comments when they no longer apply. It's normal that the OP will incorporate the feedback they get into their posts. Please make it easy for others to see which comments are still relevant to the discussion by removing your obsolete ones.

Use votes sparingly. Up- and Downvotes in the Sandbox should be used sparingly as the drafts here are supposed to be questions that would not fit the guidelines of the Main site in their current form. Only upvote if you think a draft is ready for the Main site and only downvote if you think that a question is just not a good fit, no matter how much the OP works on the draft. In any case, please write a comment to explain your voting. We don't want to unnecessarily discourage the OP, but we also don't want them to waste their time.

Please avoid answering questions here. I know it's tempting, but answering the question in a comment will clog the comments and make it harder to see good guidance. If you have an answer for the proposed question, simply wait for it to be posted to the main site, and answer it there.

Please make sure you wait at least a day after posting into the Sandbox to give a range of people time to see the question and respond.

The Sandbox works best if you sort posts by "active" (click here to do so).

  • Regarding this sandbox, what do you think of this feature request on Meta Stack Exchange?
    – gparyani
    Oct 12, 2018 at 4:12
  • @gparyani I've upvoted, as it'd be a cool feature, but it's definitely not super necessary, as I or someone else would've edited your question into the correct format if it wasn't. This is what happened with the other question currently in the sandbox as well.
    – scohe001
    Oct 12, 2018 at 13:23
  • Why is this needed?
    – user20
    Mar 11, 2020 at 4:50
  • 1
    @tuskiomi sometimes it is difficult to get a question that is in your head good and on topic immediately. If you’d post that to the main site without a thought, it would possibly get downvotes and/or closed before it can be improved into a good question. It is often difficult to get a question that once had a negative appearance back in a good light, even if it turned into a good question. Moreover, the sandbox gives users more time to think about what they want for the question; there is no rush to get it reopened or to stop a downvote stream. It’s not mandatory, though!
    – Belle
    Mar 11, 2020 at 9:38

3 Answers 3


Answers containing graduated questions will be deleted. This is designed to be a repository for all those questions that have graduated. It is a community wiki answer, so add in your question here, at the end of the list once it is posted on the main site!

  1. How can I encouragingly critique my budding photography friend?
  2. Encouraging bystanders to step up
  3. How to avoid conflict refusing to honor kid naming traditions
  4. How do I make it known to a group of friends that I need a little more patience to communicate with?
  5. How can I decline to help my teacher with their personal IT problem?
  6. How do I help break the ice between Alice and Bob after past drama?
  7. How to press to receive updates without sounding obnoxious?
  8. Breaking up well
  9. How to help/advise a separated couple find an agreeable solution that does the least harm to their child during their turmoil?
  10. How to tell people that you will not go to their party without them taking it personally?
  11. How do I let someone from a different culture know that they are doing something rude?
  12. What is "holding space" and how do I do it?
  13. How to communicate to my aunt that she made an honest mistake when buying food for a family meal?
  14. How to tell a close friend they've been cheated on when the cheater is my good friend
  15. When should one do "la bise" in France?
  16. How do I tell students at a school I volunteer at to stop flirting with me?
  17. Tactfully declining a family Thanksgiving invitation
  18. Going to live in someone else's house--how to ask for rules?
  19. How can I tell if I'm being a bother when asking for help?
  20. How can I help my friend accept that the relationship is over?
  21. Gently turning down undesired physical contact/setting boundaries in a nightclub environment
  22. How can I defuse a violent argument between two people?
  23. Could expressed attraction be an absolute prevention of someone feeling attraction to me?
  24. How many time should you try to call someone if the other person is not answering?
  25. Untangling the intersections of transphobia, fetishization, and reality
  26. public transport: how to know (non-verbally) if someone needs a seat?
  27. How can I be assertive without being labeled as difficult?
  28. Telling my cousin that she might want to learn more about cultural appropriation
  29. How to avoid semantic noise during a regular conversation?
  30. How to determine which gesture of appreciation will be the most effective?
  31. How can I help someone become more assertive?
  32. What is the etiquette for responding to someone thanking me for doing my job?
  33. Contacting a friend when I haven't heard from them in weeks
  34. When sitting, how to non-verbally communicate that someone is invading your personal space?
  35. Communicating that I don't appreciate being repeatedly pressed to do something
  36. How do I deescalate a situation in which two people are arguing, and other people are calling for them to be banned?
  37. How to interact with a person asking for change without giving them false hope?
  38. Mediating Between a Parent with High Expectations and a Defensive Sibling
  39. On what to compliment someone with anorexia in order to improve their body image?
  40. Discussing my noisy pet with the neighbors
  41. How to ask my manager for a part-time?
  42. Tactfully avoiding sharing food with a friend
  43. How do I determine my boss's position on transgender rights?
  44. Showing a homeless person that you care about their well-being
  45. How to initiate a conversation with a person who recently had transition but you were not in touch with them?
  46. Asking to be made aware of a surprise because of anxiety issues
  47. How do I reconnect with a friend after they tried once and I failed to respond
  48. How can I communicate to my mother that her complaints about me make me feel like I'm not enough?
  49. What is the etiquette around greetings in online communication in India?
  50. How to stay as the well-wisher/friend without escalating her feeling for me?
  51. How to ask my mother to stop giving me unsolicited (health related) advices?
  52. How to tell someone that I'm on the autism spectrum while mitigating the risk of not been believed?
  53. How can I have a conversation with my fiancé about a subject he doesn't want to talk about?
  54. How to deal with mild verbal aggressiveness in debates?
  55. How to respond to challenges about using the women's restroom as a trans woman
  56. How can I refuse to kiss my mother while minimizing the hurt feelings?
  57. What is the meaning of sticking out your tongue?
  58. Why is it socially not acceptable to point at someone with your finger?
  59. How to gain group respect in a workplace setting?
  60. How many "bise" (kisses) should I give?
  61. How to argue motivation for feelings while still validating the feelings itself
  • Can I suggest removing the numbering and reversing the order of the list so that it is from youngest to oldest? I know may be biased as I plan to add a question to this list shortly, but it seems unfair draw attention away from new questions to those which are (potentially years) older, and are thus more likely to be already answered.
    – Notso
    Oct 3, 2018 at 11:29
  • 5
    @Notso this answer is more an archive of what's been in the Sandbox for those users below the rep requirement to see all of the deleted answers below. I wouldn't be so worried about drawing attention to your post. If you've just posted it and it's getting answers/revisions it will consistently be toward the top of active which far more users check than this meta answer ;)
    – scohe001
    Oct 3, 2018 at 15:02
  • @scohe001 Fair enough!
    – Notso
    Oct 3, 2018 at 17:41

How to be more a more responsive and respectful listener?

My girlfriend loves telling me about her day when she comes home from work. Whether it's relaying positive encounters, ranting about bad customers or just a blow-by-blow of the day's schedule, she finds it relaxing and stress-relieving to relive the day with me.

Unfortunately, I'm not a very good listener. She's usually describing things in an incredible amount of detail and derailing, which turns a 20-second factoid into a 12 minute ramble. As an example, she might be trying to tell me about how Carol had trouble with this one customer today and she had to call in Neal to help and oh earlier that day Neal was dealing with this spill in aisle 2 and it made a mess and this old lady was mad about it and it's the same old lady that had this problem last week about carrots and the carrots looked really good today she wanted to buy some when she was ringing other people's orders up and -

These storytelling sessions can easily last 30-45 minutes or more in one sitting. Every conversation tends to go in circles like that and it drives me batty - I grew up in a household where you only shared stores if they were succinct and/or funny, and for a net total of maybe 10% of your daily activities. I have no practice listening to long rambles about every detail. As a result, I tend to try to jump us ahead by blurting out what I expect the ending will be, like if I can just hurry her up we can get it over with. This causes her to feel silenced and like I'm not interested in her, which sucks for both of us.

I've talked with her about limiting herself to just a handful of stories at once, or x minutes chunk of time at once, but with limited success. In the past she's been a bit hurt by the suggestion, reluctantly agreed, and very little has changed.

I would like to embrace her style of storytelling and appear interested and invested, without being so invested that I interrupt her to guess where it's going. Simultaneously, I'd like to find some ways to politely exit the conversation without her feeling like I'm not interested in listening to her. Are there any tips for the "right" level of engagement? Any (tested!) strategies to zone into conversations instead of out of them?

Sandbox notes:

  • The description feels very long, but I'm also not sure what, if anything, should be cut. Is it okay as-is?

  • I feel like this question might actually be two: 1. How to be a better listener. 2. How to tell my girlfriend when I need to tap out because I'm zoned out. Is one or the other a better fit? Should I keep them combined since they stem from the same issues?

  • There is some uncertainty about what would be the ideal outcome here, or being what you call a better listener. It's unclear (I imagine, for you too) what your girlfriend expects from your listening. Without a defined goal proposing solutions would tend to be offtopic as being opinion based suggestions, but if you have discussed the matter and clarified that it could be a good fit. How to tell you need to tap out could be a good question but I believe won't be very helpful.
    – Diane M
    Sep 1, 2020 at 1:44

How can I get my parents to stop arguing with me when I drive slowly on a highway?

When my family and I (mother, father, and sibling) drive on a long road trip, that trip typically involves highways (motorways), and my father and I typically switch turns driving for different segments (because it'd be a pain for just one of us to drive the entire journey). (My mother can't drive our typical road trip car for long due to arm pain issues - it handles like a small truck - but she daily-drives a small car, and is a knowledgeable driver.)

My father very typically drives very aggressively on the road - passing many other cars, varying speed between 120-140 km/h, and keeping a very bumpy ride for passengers. When I ask him about it, he says that he's just trying to keep up with the rest of the road traffic. He's the epitome of a "stereotypical" Southern Californian driver, but I think he takes it too overboard.

On the other hand, I prefer to cruise in the rightmost (outermost) lane at a slower speed of 100 km/h, slowing down when I see curves, and only passing (overtaking) really slow vehicles such as large trucks. My main priorities when driving are to make the ride as clean and comfortable as possible, to save as much fuel as possible, and make it safer for me as I don't have to do as many mental calculations. However, when made aware through any means that we're on a time crunch, I do attempt to emulate my father's driving, to the best extent I can.

This, however, tends to result in conflict from both parents. My father wants me to emulate his driving style all the time, not merely when we're on a time crunch. My mother is OK with cruising in one lane, but still wants me to do so at a faster speed of 120 km/h - a speed which (I've tested) results in much lower fuel economy, and which requires that I frequently change lanes due to the way other cars drive, which essentially requires emulating my father.

My father gets really mad at me when I drive my way, to the point where he loudly shouts at me, because he thinks I'm going "unnecessarily" slow and not keeping up with the traffic (by which he means faster traffic in the left - inner - lanes). It flares up to the point where he's shouting, affecting my ability to focus. When I ask him to stop shouting, he repeatedly insists that he's not - despite the fact that he clearly is (if ten people were to listen to a recording, nine would agree that it was shouting).

My mother attempted to negotiate a compromise where when one is driving, the other would not make any complaint about the driver's driving, unless they do something blatantly dangerous (meaning she'd also complain about the same thing). Since this deal was brokered, I've held up my end of the deal - the only times I've raised issues with my father are cases where she's also raised issues, which mostly have to do with city driving - but my father has repeatedly violated this deal. She reminds him most of the time, and he stops for ~15 minutes, but continues afterwards. Another crucial point about this deal is that she's not a party to it - meaning that she also complains about it (though at a reduced interval).

I've repeatedly been asked to explain why I do what I'm doing, but when I do (higher fuel economy, smoother ride, and less mental load for me), my explanation always falls on deaf ears.

I would not be OK with a solution that says I shouldn't drive, because I like to and my father would not like driving entire journeys as it's a pain. Also, getting off the highway to change drivers isn't viable, since we don't have proper lay-bys unlike many other areas: the best we can do is get off at an exit and park in a shopping area, a process which would take time, meaning that me driving halfway, stopping, and changing the driver to my father would take the same time as me driving the entire way.

How can I discuss this issue with them in advance of a trip so that they don't bring up the issue when I drive in my preferred slow-and-steady manner? Also, if it does come up when I drive, how can I defuse the situation so that it doesn't escalate to shouting?

I'm in my early twenties and have been driving for five years with a clean record, and passed my driving test with a perfect score. My parents are in their late 40s/early 50s and have been driving for 20+ years; my father has been stopped for speeding a few times, though. The car we drive was purchased by my parents when we were young kids.

  • Hello, so I have two question for you: do you want to be driving? Would you be okay with a solution saying "don't drive anymore"? And the second question is about what USA highways are like. In France, we have safe area to take a break every 10 km or so. Do you also have something like that in the US?
    – Ael
    Jul 26, 2021 at 8:44
  • @Ael I would prefer to drive, so I would not be OK with a solution that says "don't drive". Second, we do have freeway exits on a regular basis where one can park at a shopping/eating area most of the time in suburban areas, but we don't have lay-bys in rural areas unlike in Europe: the shoulder on the right side is only for emergency stops.
    – gparyani
    Jul 26, 2021 at 8:51
  • The bit about the gas might be entirely superfluous, depending on the situation. Whose car is it? Who pays for the gas? Unless you're paying for the gas, complaining about mileage just looks like you're reaching for arguments to justify your stance.
    – Sarov
    Jul 26, 2021 at 13:35
  • @Sarov It's their car, purchased when we were young kids. They're paying for the fuel, but don't realize that they're saving money by my driving. It's not a superfluous argument - I really like saving fuel, and feel bad when I've used more fuel than necessary for a trip.
    – gparyani
    Jul 26, 2021 at 17:21
  • @gparyani "I like/feel bad" - I'd argue that's more an intrapersonal concern than an interpersonal one. What if you explained that and they said "Yes, we know. But it's our car, our fuel, and our money. Why should you get a say?"? You wouldn't really have any valid rebuttal imo.
    – Sarov
    Jul 26, 2021 at 17:25
  • Take a look at this meta post. It explains quite well something that's bothering me about this question too: You ask how to make others do something. Your post would be much better off when you reword it to somehow focus on what you want to change in your own behavior, instead of focusing on what you want to change in others.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jul 26, 2021 at 17:33
  • @Tinkeringbell Okay, so would changing the goal from getting them to stop raising the issue entirely to instead focus on their demeanor when shouting at me about it satisfy that?
    – gparyani
    Jul 26, 2021 at 17:51
  • That still reads to me like 'I want them to change something'. What do you want to change in the way you handle these situations?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jul 26, 2021 at 17:51
  • @Tinkeringbell I'd try the general things to reduce conflict, such as ceasing to shout back at them, maintaining a calm tone myself, and showing clear understanding of what they're taking about. I'd also make use of high-speed express lanes whenever possible, and increase my general cruising speed to 110 km/h.
    – gparyani
    Jul 26, 2021 at 18:06
  • @gparyani Tinkeringbell isn't asking about what you're currently doing. You're being asked "What do you want to change about your own behaviour, but don't know how to do so?".
    – Sarov
    Jul 26, 2021 at 19:02
  • 1
    For example, "How can I avoid or de-escalate conflict when ..." or "How can I effectively communicate my need for safety when ..." or "How do I convey my reasonings for ..." or "how do I communicate that I am hurt that my family does not appreciate that I ...", etc.
    – Sarov
    Jul 26, 2021 at 19:07
  • Are you still planning to fix up/post this?
    – Sarov
    Aug 10, 2021 at 17:59
  • @Sarov I'm on vacation with sporadic network access. I'll be back home in a few days
    – gparyani
    Aug 10, 2021 at 18:07
  • @Sarov I've edited the ending goal. Does it look fine now?
    – gparyani
    Aug 19, 2021 at 0:16
  • 1
    A few questions please... 1. How old are you? 2. How long have you been driving? 3. How old is your father and how long has he been driving? 4. Any car crash? 5. Do you have you own car?
    – OldPadawan
    Aug 19, 2021 at 15:09

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