Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Wish You Would Not Ask...

Are you one of those who will not ask, fearing you might be turned down?  And also one who is uncomfortable with those who ask without any reservations, and put you in a spot, since you find it so difficult to say NO?

I can identify with that kind.

This huge debate is on – spurred by a web posting by Andrea Donderi and subsequently an article by Burkeman that appeared in The Guardian – which I shall quote from liberally.

Whether you Ask or Guess, they say depends a lot on your upbringing. In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it's OK to ask for anything at all, but you got to realize you might get no for an answer. This is the Ask Culture. People who ask for just about anything. For a favour, for a raise. They believe they can ask for something, even if the answer may be No. But they will try anyway.

The Guess Culture on the other hand– are people, who will only request ( not ask) if they think the answer is yes. They will debate within themselves and send out feelers till they are sure, and in most cases may receive an offer even before they can pose the question.

Both seem right in their own way. But the problem is when an Asker meets a Guesser. An Asker might ask to borrow your favourite book; invite himself home to stay. And as a Guesser, you would think he is rude to ask and be put to a lot of agony by giving in, or through more pain having to refuse.

Among nationalities, the Japanese are said to belong to the Guess Culture. While the Russians are classified as Askers and sometimes thought to be rude persons to deal with. 

I think (GUESS?) it is good to have a healthy mix of both. I personally feel I am more of a Guess person, but there are times I will not hesitate to Ask, but that is only with people I am comfortable with and may take a little advantage of.  And having to say NO is tough.  But I am learning.... .  And sometimes the agony of having said No, can really weigh you down.  At times, I secretly admire the nerve of those who ask unabashedly.  I could never do it most times. Is it a virtue?  I don't know.

There are others like Jonathan Chait who think it is perfectly right to Ask, and that Guessing culture is a recipe for frustration.  He writes: Guessers, who are usually trying to be nice and are holding themselves to a higher level of politeness, ruin things for the rest of us.  I feel that this is being pretty harsh on Guessers

What do you classify as? An Asker or a Guesser?

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  1. Like u, I'm somewhere in between. An asker with the very few close friends who I think I can take the liberty with (and who can take the liberty to say no). A guesser with everyone else.
    But at work I have learnt that it is the askers who do better - the crying baby gets the milk.
    My husband is a guesser, totally. He would never ask *anyone* for *anything*

  2. Getting the right mix between ask and guess is the trick.

  3. Like you, I think (GUESS!) I'm a guesser.

    But, a person should have the right mix of asker and guesser! IMO, the asker always get an opportunity. But for a guesser, the opportunities are difficult to come by

  4. Ask unhesitatingly if it is for a public cause.Do not ask for personal benefit as a rule unless you know the person intimately and the request is not unreasonable.

    There is one more thing to be kept in mind.Be alive to the needs of those whom you are close with relatives and friends and help them where possible even without their asking.

    This would summarise my take on the issue

  5. I think I am a guesser too since I find it very difficult to ask. You are right about it being a product of the upbringing. Thanks for an interesting post.

  6. I guess (think) I am a healthy mix of both. There are times when it is ok to ask for ex your family or close friends or the boss for a raise. Then there are other times when guessing and conjecture works the best.

  7. Largely a guesser. Occassionally an asker !

    I agree with Arundhati. The fast pace of life, means the asers have it easier !


  8. Nice post! And interesting question. :)

    As the others said- the askers do better. But it's so much more satisfying- I think- if we get what we want without having to ask for it!

  9. I ask for help with people who are very close to me. I try my best to help if I can and sometimes went out of the way, which proved wrong in the long run.

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  11. Arundati - Askers definitely do better. They may not be popular, but they are definitely more succesful - atleast it seems that way.
    Haddock - And what is the right mix?
    Nona - you said it - for a guesser, opportunities are difficult to come by.
    KP - ask for a good cause. Good advice.
    Lotus Leaf, Kavi - there seem to be so many guessers here.
    Jaya - Glad you are back on blogosphere. And maybe you could write a post on how to achieve that healthy mix of asker-guesser quality.
    Manju - True, askers may have it easy, but you prefer being a guesser. If I could change I wish I could be an asker more often.
    Sandhya - It happens all the time. Being helpful is not the best policy.

  12. Most of us are Guessers I presume.

  13. had never given this so much of a thought !! intense must say :)

  14. I think (GUESS?) it is good to have a healthy mix of both..this is best...but what you say in the last para is also tru.....I have suffered a lot because I couldnt say no, and now I am learning that.

  15. I guess I am part of "Guess Culture". Very uncomfortable in asking for favor.

  16. "I personally feel I am more of a Guess person, but there are times I will not hesitate to Ask, but that is only with people I am comfortable with and may take a little advantage of." I'm like that too. With people I'm comfortable with, I can even afford to ask stupid questions!! With others I'd rather be a guesser and stay on safe terrains :)

  17. I think my personality is a guesser but because of my work...I am an asker :)!

    Radha....absolutely I will invite you to my blog when it turns private. I do need to keep it more private as honestly, this town is so small that everything I say or do is known WELL in advance. Many of the people there knew I had the job long before I!

  18. Anil, Vintage Obs, Rajesh,Samvedna, Deeps: I guess most of us are guessers here - is that why we blog? To express what me may not otherwise?
    Trish - Thanks. Will wait for the invite.
    Kru - yes, 260 posts - after the nudge from you for the first one!

  19. Asking (a person you know) is OK. I have seen complete strangers ask me for favors...especially many Indians. Their attitude: I am Indian and you are Indian. So you have to help me.

  20. Some food for thought this, your post. I see you are referring to "asking" such as for a favour or a raise. What about those who have no qualms about asking you personal questions, details? That's Indian culture, I guess!

  21. depends on the upbringing

  22. Radha, thanks for visiting! I love all your blogs. I'm so glad you came over.

  23. Indrani - atleast one!
    SG, Shailaja - Keep away from those types
    sm - yes it does
    samvedna - I'm back
    Dipali - thanks.

  24. Interesting post on something that engages most of us at some time or the other. You manage to bring in some backed up info and intrigue us at the same time, in a very well-written, light vein


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