Here is the question I asked: Is there an existing concept for what I call "Verbal Cannonballs", which if avoided reduce conflict?

I was specifically told by someone on Meta to ask about this on the IPS or Psych Meta; but I'm only on the IPS Meta and this was asked first on IPS. That's the reason I'm asking here.

That question (above) is about whether there is a literature-backed "jargon" or name or term used by life coaching or counseling or "people skills" experts and professionals. I asked on IPS because it's not only about Psych. That site seems filled with ultra-big words and I thought this was too small.

Should this be on Psychology instead? Some applicable reasons would be nice.

Consider: As a new user, I know that "people skills" is a subcategory of Psychology, which is a broad topic. But, people skill also relates to sales, management, and arguably others. This leans toward Psych because it's about what I affectionately call "psychobable", AKA psychosemantics, which is very useful for those who actually understand it. Some people on IPS seemed to recognize the psychosemantics, many others didn't seem to recognize that as my question. So, perhaps more users on the Psych site would recognize it.

Please, I prefer input from users with high-rep on both IPS and Psych, since that is what this question is about.

3 Answers 3


I see a three-pronged problem with the question as currently written and IPS.

  1. The people with the relevant background and experience are likely to be on Psychology.SE or one of the linguistic stacks. They may or may not be participants on IPS as well. But the expertise that is needed exists on another stack, while the question may be off-topic there. The question may or may not be on-topic here, but it's a stab in the dark to seek people with relevant expertise on IPS. Especially if the answer is negative-- it would take an extremely knowledgeable figure to meaningfully state that "no, no word currently exists to describe this".

  2. The question, per my reading, is not obviously on-topic for IPS. The frame of the question seems to look for validation for the OP's concept, primarily in hoping to find that it's already a subject of study. As this is a case of language-as-used, Linguistics.SE seems like the best fit (possibly tagged with "Pragmatics"?). But regardless, whether or not the question is appropriate for another stack is irrelevant to whether or not it's on-topic here. There definitely exist good questions which are not good in the SE format, and even if IPS is the "best" fit that doesn't automatically mean that it fits here well enough.

  3. I'm sure it's possible, but I'm struggling to see how a future question-asker might both find this question and benefit from it here. Without established terminology, a random Googler looking for IPS skills is unlikely to choose the same descriptions as the OP ("verbal cannonball", for example), and therefore unlikely to encounter the question. If established terminology does exist, then someone would probably need to already know it in order to find this question for the same reason. There are no other elements to the question, and so nothing else to draw people to it nor anything else for them to gain from it.

If the focus were on something other than the existence of a formal, accepted term (like, "does this effect exist?", or "how can I avoid/repair offence if I use a word like this", or even one that asserts the premise like "how can I de-escalate a conversation when one party uses words like these?") it could very easily be clearly on-topic for the site. For that matter I think it likely that a question more like one of those examples might elicit the very term the OP is seeking (assuming that one does exist and is known to someone reading the question).

But I don't think it's properly an IPS question as currently constituted. This might possibly be on-topic at Linguistics.SE.

  • I like this, it helps me to understand the IPS standards. My ambivalence is that it really is aimed at IPS and a people skills argument. I think you summarized my own considerations better than I could. Please, try editing my title to your liking, so that it would work with IPS. That would teach me what a title really should be. I trust you because you seem to understand well. Perhaps (if needed) edit the basic question at the start of the OP. If your idea fails, I will strongly consider Linquistics.SE. I very much appreciate your insight. Nov 26, 2018 at 21:57
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    @JesseSteele I'm fine with editing things, but my issue is with the content of the question moreso than the title. As noted in (3), "what is the formal term, if one exists, for this kind of language?" is the only question I can find in the OP. It's not a matter of the title-- I (personally) feel that terminology requests like this fit poorly in IPS.SE. I can't guess at what other info you might want, and so can't edit it into the question. If you're interested in anything else, please add it to the question. If the term is all you want, then my critique will remain unsatisfied.
    – Upper_Case
    Nov 26, 2018 at 22:05
  • Upper_Case I agree. This has been edited extensively, by others also. Initially, I put "formal or informal". I think one of the word-slashers (which is good, I know newswriting) cut it out and I respected and just accepted it. But, informal is also fine for me, I'm more focused on pre-existance of the concept itself. I'm American in Asia and have used this to de-escalate conflict between Europeans and Chinese alike. Personally I see the value, but I must believe at least some life coach or someone isolated "fodder words". Looking for literature, "jackal language" was closest. Understand? &TY Nov 26, 2018 at 22:10
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    @JesseSteele I think I understand what you're saying, but it still doesn't address my concern (assuming that I'm correct). If all that you are looking for is an existing word which describes the phenomenon that you have observed, then it's a language question, not an IPS question. If you have a question about the phenomenon itself, how to use it, how to avoid it, how to deal with it, how it is represented in different cultures, etc., those are a lot more likely to be on-topic. If the sum of the question is "has anyone, anywhere, ever, described this", I will continue to think it is off-topic.
    – Upper_Case
    Nov 26, 2018 at 22:22
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    FYI (cc @JesseSteele) - I pinged a linguistics mod and unfortunately it's not on-topic there, as you're focused more on the social/psychological aspects of this concept rather than linguistics.
    – Em C
    Nov 29, 2018 at 3:51
  • @Upper_Case whatever you decide at this point, I'll accept. I edited it to best fit what you mentioned for IPS. If this fits, can you re-open it? If it doesn't, I'm satisfied with the answer so far. So, in that event, could we just leave it here for a possible new forum to open one day? Other options? You're move. And, thank you so much for so much time spent. Nov 29, 2018 at 4:26

Psych & Neurosci mod here.

I'll be frank (i.e., I'll skip the didactic first positive comment, and jump right into the critiques :-). The problem with the 'Is there a [scientific] term for X' questions is that they are often based on personal experiences, or anecdotes. However, I do acknowledge that in this case I think a lot of people will recognize the examples, but in my opinion the examples are very much context dependent, which makes the question too broad and answers will likely be primarily opinion based.

Further, we try to maintain a scientific stack, meaning questions have to be embedded in a neuro-scientific or psychological context. In this case it is not, as far as I can see, as the examples are context dependent.

While I think the question is interesting, it is unsuitable for Psych & Neurosci unfortunately.

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    Thank you SO MUCH! That helps me precisely. I thought much of the same in the first place, which was why I put it on IPS. Nov 26, 2018 at 15:41
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    Humbly to a mod: I think you mean "diplomatic"; "didactic" is a direct-style teaching method, etymologically rooted in Greek. Am I wrong?—please educate me! Nov 26, 2018 at 15:55
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    'didactic' is not a single teaching method, but is a general term that means 'teaching' in a way that helps the learner to learn better. Good teaching, as you may. He used didactic here to refer to the feedback-sandwich method, which has proven to be a good way to get bad feedback across. The sandwich is made of good feedback, bad feedback, then good feedback again. Here, OP leaves out the first good feedback in order to get to the point quicker. Glad to have educated you :)
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 16:37
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    @Cashbee In all good humor, that didn't educate me much—other than that it does tell me how people view what I learned as the "P-S-P" (Praise, Suggestion, Praise) method. I didn't know that the first "praise" was seen as educational by some people, but you did teach me that. My particular background in "didactic" comes from my major in Greek and background in education that likes to avoid the "didactic" method as it's often boring. I thought about suggesting "delphi [method]" instead, which might be more appropriate to the "PSP sandwich". But hey, it's all Greek to me! Love you, keep it comin. Nov 26, 2018 at 18:45
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    @Cashbee Thanks for that. Indeed I was referring to the 'Praise - Suggestion - Praise' as Jesse points out correctly. I'm not a native English speaker and I was looking for the translation of 'didactically justified', but hadn't the time to google translate The Dutch version (as I did know). I just dislike the "Ahaa target practice' mentality. That's why I wished to apologize. I'm in science and reviews are often like that. 'There look at the makiwara - hit it!'. Long story short - I like this question, but migration to our site isn't an option.
    – AliceD
    Nov 26, 2018 at 19:18
  • @JesseSteele - no need to humble me haha ;) Thanks for your words here and for taking the effort of throwing this into meta.
    – AliceD
    Nov 26, 2018 at 19:21
  • @AliceD I'm also glad I said something because I now think "didactic phase" might have been best (not that it matters to edit, ;-} ), which means I have a whole lot more to learn than I thought. Open discussion in threads really help a lot. Nov 26, 2018 at 19:25

I do not know the psychology stack, but I have been active on IPS for over a year. So I can't say whether it would be on topic over there, but in my opinion, your question is on topic here. These 'verbal cannonballs' can be used as an interpersonal skill. (Knowing what to say, when, and how)

But then, you are not asking how to apply verbal cannonballs to achieve a certain goal, but you are asking 'does this skill, that I have named verbal cannonballs, exist?'. Again, this is on-topic IMO (Questions about skills themselves are okay here) but you should not expect answers explaining different aspects of this skill, but rather an answer saying either:

yes this exists, it's called XYZ and here is a link to a trustworthy source where they explain everything about it.


no this doesn't exist, and this is why: ....

  • Thanks for this, it helps. I kinda' agree and am learning from your ideas at the same time. I wanted simple answers like that too, maybe it could have been more about applying it. I would be glad to rephrase, but some people decided to hit the mute button on it. Nov 26, 2018 at 9:37
  • You can still rephrase and vote to reopen afterwards. It's the standard procedure here, the question is not deleted but only put on hold, as long as it is missing information or simply off topic. We encourage posters to edit their post when it is put on hold. In this case however, I think you will be safer to wait for more feedback here in meta (I hope that more people see your post as on topic so you wouldn't have to edit at all). The edit you have in mind would change the meaning of the question by a lot. If it's the edited question that you are really interested about, go ahead and edit.
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:45
  • Okay, but I don't know how to vote to re-open it. Is my rep too low? Nov 26, 2018 at 9:47
  • no, IIRC you should always be able to vote this on your own posts. The button is located under your post, beside the 'share' and 'edit' button
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:50
  • Okay, but I only see: share edit delete flag ...and nothing tells me about being able to vote to reopen it. Nov 26, 2018 at 9:51
  • Aah, I think you have to edit it first to be able to do that. meta.stackexchange.com/a/36423/391802 - Editing the body of a question within five days of closure will also add it to the Reopen Review queue
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:54
  • Okay, your answer here about "usage" is a lot for me as a rookie to take in. Your answer here really has a lot of wisdom and I need to sleep on it. I'll come back in a few hours and see if I can rephrase it to include "how to use this in life" or something. Will that be more useful for IPS? (I do hope it stays on IPS because, as you say, I think that can make a better, bigger difference there.) Nov 26, 2018 at 9:56
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    how to use it in life would be very broad. you should ask about a specific situation. I would recommend you try it out in our sandbox so we can give feedback on your question draft
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:58
  • Awesome, I need time for all this. Mods, please let me sit on ice for a while, as it were. :-) Nov 26, 2018 at 9:59
  • I know that some of the explained things are a bit much for a rookie. rules here on IPS are highly debated and still subject to change, we are still on beta after all. It is why at least 5 people voted to close your post, while others disagree. What will help to wrap your head around what and how you can ask here is reading the top 10 questions of all time. It's a bit time consuming but very informative (and interesting :P)
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 10:10
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    hey @JesseSteele I saw you edited the question and tried to reopen it. The edit itself has put it into the Reopen review-queue, so you'll have to wait a bit until enough users have voted on it. you have not enough rep to vote yourself yet, but at least you could put it into the queue. I also took the liberty of making an edit myself, to clarify the question a bit. If my edit is not what you wanted, please feel free to revert it back
    – kscherrer
    Nov 26, 2018 at 15:01
  • I see your title change and get your meaning. The thing I'm curious about is that a "verbal cannonball" is more of an "anti-skill" or "land mine" that needs to be avoided. Could you ponder that and edit it again with your own wisdom? I'm in Asia and need to go to bed. Thank you millions! Nov 26, 2018 at 15:50
  • I did make some edits, but I kept your way of framing a useful question. Feel free to edit more. Nitenite from Asia. Nov 26, 2018 at 16:02

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