Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Idea for human relationships

In Computer Science, in some protocols, there's something called "exponential backoff" when something would otherwise break.

When you have a problem with someone else, I recommend exponential backoff. First time you annoy someone, go away for 1 unit of time. Next time, 2 units. Then 4 units. Etc etc etc.

I've found, looking back on my experiences, that's how I handle people a lot of the time. Back off in larger increments each time. Persistence is important in some things, yes, but giving people more time each time does help, I find.

It's not simply that x time has elapsed since you pissed someone off, it's that it's been y units of time since you last tried to talk to them about it.

Golly gee I'm a dork.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes geeky notation can help quantify an arguement, especialy if you think in those terms.

My dad was impressed when I explained a similar principle to him when I was 3 years old. Er, not the geeky bits, more like, "I'm upset. Go away and I will calm down on my own." Before that, he tried to talk me through my tantrums.

Sometimes having the person there will just escalate the tension. A cool down period can help people approach the same issue with a clearer perspective that is not as skewed by strong emotions. I've never heard someone refer to an increasing period of separation, but it makes sense.
- kfc