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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).

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  • 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
  • Why is this needed? – tuskiomi Mar 11 at 4:50
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    @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 at 9:38
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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"?
  • 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
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    @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
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How do I share my problems to a friend in a way that helps her?

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I have a friend that is going through a lot. She is in a critical condition at this point.

So far I have been supporting her the best way I could. Being there for her, cheering her up, etc. However it seems that what I am doing doesn't really help, or at the very least she needs more help.

I know that in the situation she is right now, many people feels misunderstood, also I know she knows other people in similar situations, however those people aren't doing well either, and in any case they are not close to her.

I want to share with her that I understand her more than she thinks. To show her there is light at the end of the tunnel, or basically there are other ways to deal with things and things can and will get better. And also that the advice I generally give her come from a knowing place, and not an outsider.

I have experienced and experience in general things similar to her, although my experience has been less extreme.

I want to share with this minimizing any negative impact on her and maximizing any positive impact. Like feelings of being understood.

I don't want her to worry about me, and I don't her to feel like she is a failure because seemingly I have similar experiences and I am doing better. Also I don't want her to feel like I am minimizing her problems or patronzing her.

How do I share my problems and knowledge of the situation in a way that helps and doesn't hurt her? She is at a time she needs all the help she can get and no more hurt.


Sandbox related stuff:

  • It is the first time I am using the sandbox, so please forgive me if I am doing it wrong. I am following @Ælis post as a template. (thanks @AGirlHasNoName for showing me this sandbox!)
  • I want to ask this question without giving specific information because I believe it applies to many different cases. For example a person going trhough a very rough patch at work, or having health or mental issues, etc. However I don't know how to phrase it properly so it makes sense. Does it make sense?
  • Is this question a good fit for IPS? How should I update it so it is a good fit?
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    1. Your Sandbox etiquette is perfect--thanks for contributing! 2. I think you're right to worry about the general wording--it's definitely going to make this difficult to answer/borderline too broad. I know you want to keep things general, but if you give specifics, it will make the question a lot more answerable (and likely make it a better question too!). 3. Again I think giving more specific information here will help. I feel as it stands this may be too broad/hypothetical. – scohe001 Nov 6 '19 at 16:19
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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?

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