The starting point for this post is this question and the behaviour of the poster.

The person is clearly stressed and is starting to become irritated. The reason behind their stressful situation is unknown. But if the person is kept within the "stress region", things are not going to become better for them.

Of course, there is always the danger for someone to "play the game". I do not have a citation for this, but I feel that this might be something innate.

In toddlers for example, there is something called "Planned Ignoring" where, the carer figure ignores a behaviour of the child that the child uses to grab attention or achieve a goal. In that situation, there is something called the "Escalation trap". The carer gets irritated because they perceive this action from the child as "pre-planned", so they become firmer, the child then escalates their behaviour which leads the parent to either escalate or "give in". (So what I am referring to "the game" here, is someone pretending to be distressed to get what they are after. Note here, I am not saying that they do it consciously, that they are evil.)

In our language this is called positive feedback. "Planned Ignoring" is negative feedback. It discourages a specific behaviour and avoids escalating things further, out of a region where both the carer and the child can be cooperative.

For one reason or another, these things are hard-wired inside us. And sometimes we cannot escape them.

Some of this stuff, you come across because of work. Some others, because of mistakes. While we learn from mistakes, sometimes it is impossible to correct mistakes (in an "undo" kind of way. There is always time for self improvement of course).

Clearly, this board involves human interaction. But I am not sure how much we are "trained" to recognise positive from negative stress. All learning involves stress. But there might be other things, around the learning that push someone to a region where they will completely shutdown or revert to a learned behaviour.

But looking around, I could not find a "course" or a resource about learning some of this stuff for adults in a practical and concise way.

Does anyone know of such courses or resources?

I could find this guide for example that is very usefull, but I am not sure if it is comprehensive enough.

What do you guys think?


Recent events have prompted me to revisit this post regarding "stress". Maybe it is worth expanding it to other external factors that may be driving the behaviour of a person to such an extent that it can allow certain behaviours to permeate throughout the board.

I was amazed by the sheer effort and genuine attempts of at least 4 contributors on this board over the span of many hours to genuinely understand what the point of a question was but instead, line by line, argument by counter-argument descending into an unproductive, convoluted interaction that stops being about about a technical issue and becomes the main issue.

I think that it is worth having a think on recognising these interactions and steping back in time, before they blow up and become counter-productive.

Recognising it and handling it in a dissociated and calm way. And to extreme cases, this might also be the right thing to do to "protect" the other person whose state, as evidenced from just what they are writing and how they express themselves is already clearly upset.

  • $\begingroup$ When you mix in various cultures and different personality types this becomes a very tall order. $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '18 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, I found your modeling of the problem to yield a more complex situation than necessary... So someone wants a full answer to his question (homework or s.t. else). Good; if anyone wants to answer, then no problem. If anyone does not want to answer; no problem either. OP has no right to complain for this... Hence, I find the stress argument a little unnecessary here. We're not technical-customer service... I hope I understood it correct. $\endgroup$
    – Fat32
    Nov 10 '18 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Fat32 The bit that is relevant to the post is the "...has no right to complain...". The OP can complain. Even if they appear to someone to be crossing a line, they can take this option. This post is about moving from "...they have no right..." to "what do 'I' do with this?". I would not see "us" in a "customer service" role, but more of a mentor's role. That level of interaction I have in mind when thinking about taking into account the stress of the "other side". $\endgroup$
    – A_A
    Nov 11 '18 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ @CedronDawg I agree, it is a challenge with teams in general. $\endgroup$
    – A_A
    Nov 11 '18 at 12:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @A_A yes mentor is better. And I believe mentors in general do not much welcome immature objections from their pupils... ;-)) Obviously OP can complain even if he does not have the right to do so. In such a case, simply ignore. Or if you wish just indicate this to OP. So my choice is to ignore in general... $\endgroup$
    – Fat32
    Nov 11 '18 at 14:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Fat32 I don't know about what is generally "welcome" and what is not, this is up to the people involved and the situation. Thanks for offering a resolution. I am going to leave this here and if I (or anyone else) find anything more relevant, I will just post it back here. All the best. $\endgroup$
    – A_A
    Nov 11 '18 at 20:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In the latest ordeal, I believe I managed to stay constructive, disassociated and calm in my comments, but still got an apparent retaliatory unupvote & downvote elsewhere. Math.se put the user to the penalty box, which brought immediate peace and tranquility. Seems like a good solution. Anyhow, personal insults have no place here, not from new users or from regulars, and should be flagged for moderator attention, enabling detection and handling of the problem behavior. $\endgroup$ Jul 16 '20 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ @OlliNiemitalo I caught bits and pieces of the exchanges throughout the day but did not expect the downvote wars or even insults (?). This is really sad. This is not something they would only do on some board. This is going on in various ways in their life already. The box is a good thing to have. Maybe last resort. This is the kind of thing I have in mind. In universities you usually go through such modules as part of training for teaching. I think it is incredibly useful but I do not know which would suit... $\endgroup$
    – A_A
    Jul 16 '20 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ ...the sort of interactions that take place here $\endgroup$
    – A_A
    Jul 16 '20 at 8:34

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