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 peoples 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 '18 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 '18 at 13:23

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
  • 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 '18 at 11:29
  • 4
    @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 '18 at 15:02
  • @scohe001 Fair enough! – Notso Oct 3 '18 at 17:41

How to provide support for a friend who has a rational fear

I have a friend, we'll call them Alex, who is facing a major life decision and is very worried about the negative consequences of their choice even if they achieve their goal successfully.

The thing is...these negative consequences seem very rational to me. It's clearly the right choice - Alex will be much happier if they make this decision and will be happier with themselves. But I think that it's likely that these downsides will occur, with other elements of what makes Alex happy being reduced, and Alex struggles to not ruminate over them, even though Alex is very set on their path. They're doing what I agree is best but their fears are wreaking havoc on them as they follow that path.

Most, though not all, of my interactions with Alex are over text. How can I most effectively help them overcome these fears?

Here are the ideas I've had so far, none of which have seemed very effective:

  1. Express sympathy for Alex's feelings and acknowledge their fears
  2. Emphasize the positive elements of the choice, the good in Alex's life that will be added at the cost of a risk of this bad stuff
  3. Reassure Alex that the negative consequences aren't necessarily very impactful and are certainly not life-ruining (without sounding like I'm downplaying Alex's feelings about the matter, which is of course a difficult balancing act)
  • Also, I think you can get away with not going into more detail. It might be easier for you to do if you can quantify the good impact and the bad. For instance, if things go bad, could Alex end up receiving physical harm? Emotional harm? Social harm? etc... – Rainbacon Jun 24 at 20:58
  • I'm not sure how to quantify it abstractly, besides "some combination of social and emotional risk." – TheTinyMan Jun 24 at 21:01
  • Alienation from a single friend? A whole group of friends? The kind of thing that would require therapy? – Rainbacon Jun 24 at 21:02
  • @Rainbacon I'm really struggling to even answer that coherently without saying more than I'm willing to. :-\ – TheTinyMan Jun 24 at 21:06
  • Hmm, you've got me stumped for the moment. I don't want you to say more than you are willing. I'm trying to keep my questions as high level as I can, but I can't think of any other ways to keep it generic and still help you. – Rainbacon Jun 24 at 21:14
  • @Rainbacon Do you think it's viably answerable as it is? – TheTinyMan Jun 24 at 21:16
  • 1
    In theory, I think so, but I'm not sure how high quality of answers you'll be able to get. – Rainbacon Jun 24 at 21:31
  • The question might benefit from some exposition on what consequences might be like if Alex makes a different choice in this scenario. I've had success with demonstrating that the risk of harms is not unique to making a specific, "right" choice, even if there are potential downsides. But without some way to evaluate what the "objective" fear is (how much is inherent to the choice vs. Alex's fixation on the fear), how rational the fear is, and what alternatives exist, answers might not be much different from or more specific than the options you've already tried. – Upper_Case Jun 25 at 18:11
  • Unfortunately I can't really describe that very effectively without also giving away what I don't want to give away, @Upper_Case. :-( – TheTinyMan Jun 25 at 19:54
  • Fair enough. Could you give a similar treatment, relative to the existing question, to the downsides of not making the choice Alex is leaning towards? Even your own assessment would be enough ("I think that if Alex doesn't make the clearly right choice, his risk of negative consequences is a bit lower, but there are no positives to get that way either"). Others can probably be more helpful than me on this question, I'm just trying to think of information I could potentially use to offer something more than what you've already tried. – Upper_Case Jun 25 at 20:01
  • @Upper_Case I tried to add a little more detail along those lines, did that help at all? – TheTinyMan Jun 26 at 13:28
  • I think that it helps a lot. As I read it, I feel like I have a much better idea of Alex's position and some context for his worries. It'll nearly always be the case that more specificity in a question will engender more specific answers, but the extra detail helps me identify the "general case" in a way that I think can elicit some helpful (if not 100% precise) answers. – Upper_Case Jun 26 at 15:04
  • Can you describe in more detail what you did (think more 'how you did that') and the reaction you got from Alex? Perhaps there's something in the way you've already offered your support that can be improved, but it's not quite clear right now. – Tinkeringbell Jul 1 at 17:52
  • Is this still being worked on? Just checking since it's been around 2 weeks since the last comment and longer since the last edit. – ElizB yesterday
  • Oh, heck, I forgot all about it. I'll try to post it in the next few days. Thanks, @ElizB! – TheTinyMan 11 hours ago

How do I convince my boss to let me work in someone on my current project because I eventually want to stop working on it?


At my job I work and am responsible for two different projects over the past 3 years, which I'll call Boring and Exciting.


  • 75% of my allocation.
  • 3 years working with it.
  • 2 years working alone with it.
  • Don't like it anymore.


  • 25% of my allocation
  • 3 years of work
  • Still love being involved with it.

I was mostly ok working with both, but I've burned out of working with Boring. I was promised twice that there would be another person joining the project, but it never happened. I intended to have this other person educated in it so that I would have someone to lead the project if I communicated I wanted to leave.

< Like discussed in chat, add something about those conversations, how you asked for the extra resource here, that you never disclosed you wanted someone because you wanted to switch other projects, if you know why you didn't get an extra person, add that too... >

My work on Boring is often praised, the project is very demanding, there is no lack of work. I fear my boss is counting on me to work on Boring for at least another year, and that there are no plans to actually add another person to the project during that time. Even though I get praise, I also fear that just telling my boss I want another project will be interpreted as me not feeling capable of finishing Boring. And the last thing I'd like to avoid is having my boss say 'no' or act too surprised.

On the long term, I want to stop working with Boring. I want to tell my boss that I want to move on to other projects, but am willing to train other people in the meantime. I want him to know that I want that extra person on the project that I was promised twice but never got, so I can train them and move on.

Given that my request probably comes as a huge surprise to the boss but I've been promised help twice and didn't get it, how do I present the idea of another person on the project so I can eventually stop working on it to my boss as convincingly as possible?

  • 2 questions that come to mind: 1) have you already tried to make this clear already in some way? 2) Would you be OK with still doing for example 50% of your time on the not so fun one? Or do you really want to get rid of that responsibility altogether? – Imus Jun 18 at 11:58
  • To answer your Sandbox question: It can work on both. On IPS the focus will be on how to communicate this to your boss. On Workplace you might get alternative solutions besides talking with your boss. I think here would be a good fit in this case. – Imus Jun 18 at 12:10
  • @Imus I've been telling my boss for almost two years that I wanted help on the boring subject, someone else working with me. There were plans for people to help me twice, but it never happened. My goal was that when those people learned about it, I could address it by saying they're capable and I can move to another project without leaving a gap. So I didn't tell him explicitly (answering 1). I would be ok on gradually reducing the boring one, as long as it eventually led to 0% (answering 2). – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 12:11
  • That sounds like really useful information to get an answer to fit what you want. I strongly suggest adding it to your question :) – Imus Jun 18 at 12:13
  • @Imus I know, right? I just wanted a quick opinion on where it could be posted. I think I can write it on two ways to be on each one. Will try to work on it today and post, thanks for the help :) – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 12:15
  • 1
    What's wrong with just saying this to your boss? Questions need to be about more than just phrasing. Are there particular concerns you have that you'd like help navigating? – sphennings Jun 18 at 13:16
  • @sphennings yes, I feel like he is relying on me to do this for a long time still and saying might render me useless, or not as needed as before. – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 13:21
  • 1
    It sounds like your goal isn't actually to communicate to your boss that you don't like the majority of your job. It sounds like you want your boss to take action based on that information in a particular way. That is a very different question than what you are asking above. – sphennings Jun 18 at 13:32
  • 1
    @sphennings is it so much different? I mean, I want to tell him I dislike the work I am doing, and the goal I expect is to get it off my back. I'll give it a thought – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 14:16
  • There's a big difference between just telling someone something and communicating something with someone in a way that engenders a specific response. Telling someone something is just a matter of using your words. Engendering a specific response from a speech act is more complicated problem. – sphennings Jun 18 at 14:28
  • As written your question isn't a good fit for this site since besides the phrasing request the answer is simply "Use your words" – sphennings Jun 18 at 14:30
  • I've rewritten it to include as much information as possible, let me know what you think @sphennings – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 17:07
  • The additional context is nice but your question is still "How do I tell my boss?" to which the answer is still "Use your words?". Be careful you're verging into "What should I do?" territory which is another class of questions that is off topic for this site. We are here to answer your interpersonal questions not tell you what to do. – sphennings Jun 18 at 17:38
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 17:40
  • I need to think how to rephrase it then. I definitely know "What to do", which is telling/talking to my boss, maybe I'm thinking "what to expect?" – ConfusedHuman Jun 18 at 17:42

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