I'm not regular user on this Q&A, but I decided it can't hurt if I just leave this thought of mine here.

What is this about is that I've seen several repetitive questions, most of which I've seen thanks to the Hot panel, which involved over-thinking and over-escalating really petty conflicts. I've actually been exactly through some of the described situations but didn't consider them a big deal, just resolved them through dialogue or simply ignoring the issue as too minor to care.

I understand other people have different limits but aside of being too petty, however those questions are also quite repetitive as far as the answers are considered:

  • (top answers, by votes) Contact the manager and he will remove source of conflict rather than resolving it.
  • Leave it be. If you can't contact the manager
  • (bad answers, by my opinion) Use some passive-aggressive strategy to fight back against whatever displeases you. Actually passive is optional.

I think those questions derail the focus of this site on serious workplace issues. And in comment threads, it sometimes seems that OP's primary motive was sympathy with his situation, not a solution.

I didn't want to include examples, but as I see the question is now quite vague. I can't find all the questions that made me feel like this, but those two very recent closely describe what I'm talking about:

Now because I'm not experienced user here, I'm rather trying to spark some discussion on this topic than propose a solution. Maybe I'm the one over-thinking, I'll appreciate any input.

  • 2
    It is really hard to address vague generic accusations of issues. I am not saying you are wrong but just that there is nothing here we can reasonably address. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:38
  • 1
    Can you link to some specific examples?
    – David K
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:39
  • @DavidK And are you sure that wouldn't count as shaming people? Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:09
  • I added two recent examples. I'll dig out some more. It would be helpful if I could list questions that I downvoted before having privilege to downvote. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:13
  • 10
    Yup, there certainly are a lot of "How do I deal with {coworker | boss} who does {something I don't like}?" questions. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:16
  • 1
    I would just submit that what is petty to an observer may not be such to the person going through it.
    – Chris E
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 21:04
  • 4
    Realistically a lot of questions people have here will be about conflict and... most conflict can seem quite petty from the outside looking in.
    – enderland
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 21:06
  • 1
    @ChristopherEstep Well obviously, the people "going through it" do not consider it petty - lest they wouldn't post about it here. But this is Q&A not stress counselling site, so I think the objective reality is relevant. Maybe I'll become wiser now that I started to actively answer those questions. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 21:39
  • I would disagree on the ~*OPs are looking for sympathy* note. I think many people post on here wanting a "sanity check" before taking action with the assumption they're completely in the right. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:17
  • @SeldomNeedy Many do, but some don't. That was the point. It usually quickly turns out which is which in the comments. Edit history of the question also often tells you lot. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 11:53

5 Answers 5


I wonder how much of this could be addressed by a good canonical question. Ideally such a question should address interpersonal differences with peers, superiors, and other coworkers, and should address the general category of "this person is doing this thing that annoys me a lot". If we had one such question we could mark more-specific cases as duplicates of that.

A next step on this path would be for somebody (other than me :-) ) to look at a representative sample of the existing questions, figure out what commonalities could be addressed this way, and start to outline a canonical Q&A.

  • @ChristopherEstep when you say "the wiki", what in particular do you mean? If you have in mind that a canonical Q&A like this should be community wiki so we can improve it together, I agree. If you mean some of the tag wikis, please elaborate. Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 13:43
  • Oops, I just realized that's just an SO thing probably. lol.
    – Chris E
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 14:53
  • 1
    A relevant part of those questions are asked by young people that didn't work for long. A good canonical post about how to handle "daily conflict" would be a good reference.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 15:55
  • @ChristopherEstep the only specific thing to SO is the docs, community wiki or tag wiki exists here too.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 15:56
  • Supplementary to this good answer, we could start making a canonical question every time one of our questions makes it to the HNQ, and then close the HNQ and all the "me too" questions that follow as duplicates of the canonical question. :)
    – Masked Man
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 16:27
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 9:13

The vast majority of workplace problems ARE petty ones when viewed from a third perspective. But they can be life changing for the actual people involved. A lot if not most conflicts don't need to happen, people escalate them through stubbornness and pride before they think about a simple solution. Or before they realise that if they can change their viewpoint just a bit, the problem totally disappears.

So in my opinion anyway each question is important to someone, that someone doesn't have to be me.

  • 2
    "the problem totally disappears" That, or the solution becomes obvious. You make a good point and I think it's a variation of the "simple questions are fine" that all StackExchange sites have. A lot of our questions seem trivial when you're further removed from the problem and can automatically approach a situation objectively.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 8:09
  • 2
    I think alot of the questions actually boil down to, I know what the obvious answer is but I do not like that approach tell me to do something else. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:48

Not everyone has the same interpersonal and communication skills. Sometimes its a culture clash because the people come from different backgrounds. Sometimes its just because they do not know how to deal with a problem and they realize they need help with figuring out the right tactic for going forward. We should not be judging questions based on how easy we think it would be to solve a problem. If you do not like a question then down vote it. If you think it doesn't meet requirements for the site then flag or vote to close.

  • 1
    Absolutely agree. I wish I could upvote more than once your answer. Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 15:19

99% of the problems in the world would be solved if only people would talk openly and truly try to understand each other. Since that doesn't happen as frequently as it should, we will continue having such "petty" issues. The Workplace is a fairly miniscule portion of the world, but it illustrates the same problems as the world at large.

The next time you come across a "petty" issue, see if "talk to each other and try to understand the other person" would be a viable solution. It sounds easy enough, but people make it impossible to put into practice.

  • This is great advise for any situation where you don't see the other's position as valid in some way!
    – user30031
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 23:08

I'm reminded of the quote from Tolstoy:

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Certainly we can place these types of questions into a broad category, but when you look at them individually, they fall across a wide possible spectrum of actions.

Some of these situations might require no response, immediate action, or something nuanced in between, but my guess is it would be difficult to categorize these in any meaningful way.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .