General Question

canidmajor's avatar

Are you an Asker or a Guesser (please read details)?

Asked by canidmajor (17077points) 1 month ago

This is a pretty specific thing, please read the article.
My mother was extreme Guess Culture, my Dad was Ask Culture. Because my mother had much more immediate influence (standard 1950s style family dynamic) I grew up as a Guesser. I have been consciously working on a better balance over the last decade.

What about you?

General question.

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26 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I’m mostly an asker, but intuitive enough to figure out when I’m dealing with a guess person. I won’t know they are guessers right away, I figure it out after some interactions, hopefully not many.

My husband’s family is guess culture and very passive aggressive as the article states. I don’t call it guess culture with them, I sometimes call their behavior old world thinking, lots of rules for what people should do and lots of judgment and always feeling hurt. I don’t think all guess-like behavior is necessarily like them though.

I’m a guesser here and there, in certain situations. Once I figure out someone is I become more like them, you get what you give. Although, if their behavior becomes ridiculous to me I might call them on it if I’m annoyed enough. Let them know I know what they are doing. I’d have to be very close to them to have any sort of confrontation.

jca2's avatar

I’m a guesser, but in the example given in the link, I’m all for that the guest is rude and pushy to request to stay and the person asking the question in the link should, without a doubt, just say no.

If I want something badly enough, and I’m not sure what the response will be, I’ll just poke around and get an idea, and see if they offer. If they don’t offer, I may not ask at all, depending on how badly I want it.

(Just as an aside, I don’t get why people like to stay at the homes of others, except in rare occasions like we’re all best friends. Otherwise, I love my privacy and time alone and have no problem paying for a hotel and if necessary, a rental car. Then I can do my own thing, too, and the host is not burdened with the task of entertaining me 24/7)

JLeslie's avatar

One more thing, I think balance is important. Too much ask culture seems to me can be obnoxious and lack empathy when taken to an extreme.

@jca2 I’m more and more like you as I get older. Hotel, car, relax in the evening in my own space. When I was younger part of it was money and part was wanting to be with my friends so much staying with them sounded good.

janbb's avatar

That’s a tough one for me. I guess I’m a guesser who’d like to be more of an asker. I don’t see anything wrong with someone asking if they can stay with me but if the answer is “no” that should end it. I have asked close friends or family if I can stay with them at times and am willing to accept the answer. But in my marriage, I think I may have been too tentative in expressing my needs for fear they wouldn’t be met. It’s taken me a long time to feel it is acceptable to ask directly for help and I still struggle with it.

This question makes me think of one of my sons who when he was younger would preface a request with “I know you’ll probably say no but….” Is that asking, guessing or just manipulation?

jca2's avatar

@janbb: Was your husband (the dad) the one who usually said “yes” and you usually said “no?”

janbb's avatar

@jca2 No we were fairly compatible with each other in that regard.

Zaku's avatar

I’m put off by “user tangerine”‘s (and this question’s) assertion that “Ask Culture” and “Guess Culture” are an accurate way to categorize society.

It seems to me that’s just one reductionist binary lens, and most people would be a mix rather than one extreme or the other. User tangerine is either greatly overstating the general case for the sake of clarity or sounding right to kneejerk listeners, or they’re wrong that many people are so extremely one or the other.

In any case, I can certainly ask directly for even unreasonable things, and I am also aware of the possible issues with asking certain things of certain people.

People who really can’t do or relate one or the other of those, I would say are dysfunctional in that way.

canidmajor's avatar

@Zaku it’s very context specific, the article, and speaks to type. Obviously, it’s not the only metric by which we measure attitudes towards requests and reactions.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Interesting little tidbit there. When it comes to apartments in NYC, I’m definitely an asker. Doesn’t bother me to ask at all. When it comes to my own apartment in Honolulu, it doesn’t bother me to tell people categorically “no” to requests to stay with me.

Now, when it comes to other matters of life like dating, I’m a guesser. Please don’t make me be obvious in matters of the heart. bats eyes

snowberry's avatar

I think I sorted this out about 20 years ago. Instead of asking, “May I stay with you?” I say, “I want to find out what’s possible. I’d like to come visit in the area, and stay X days.” What are my best options?

Normally the “askee” doesn’t feel awkward in the slightest because I have never put them in the position of trying to dodge me.

LostInParadise's avatar

I am not convinced that there is a guess culture and an ask culture, and I am not sure of the details of the particular example. Is the guest asking to spend some time with the couple or does she just want room and board so she can do things on her own? In the second case, It might be okay to do this once or twice, but beyond that it gets to be rude. It would be quite appropriate to ask her to help pay for expenses. I also see nothing wrong with saying that her frequent requests are a bit of an imposition and that you would prefer that she find some other place to stay.

janbb's avatar

@snowberry That would make you a “guesser” in this scenario.

canidmajor's avatar

@LostInParadise Growing up in an extreme Guess culture household, I can peg you as definitely an Asker. In the specific example given, it doesn’t matter whether the asker wants to just have a bed or a visit (although “distant friend of my wife” is probably not a geographic description), it is the act of asking directly that makes the author uncomfortable, and that they feel the need to prevaricate instead of simply saying “No”.
It really is a thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Since you know that guesser environment really well, and I do agree with your statement that they feel they need to prevaricate, when someone lies to them with excuses for why they can’t go out to dinner or whatever, are they annoyed with the liar? The liar is doing that same behavior that they do, feeling this need to make up an excuse.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie, you so casually say “liar”, but that is a harsh assessment in a situation that calls for exaggerated etiquette and courtesy. There are so many shades of gray, and truth is mutable. Someone making gentle excuses is considered infinitely more polite than baldly saying “No, we really don’t like you enough to have you come visit.”

But this isn’t a question of facts vs not-facts, but differing attitudes on social approaches.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Sorry if my wording offended you, I was wondering when I tell a small fib to the guessers in my family if they have some sort of double standard if they realize it’s just being polite, or if they are understanding.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie, I was just trying to correct your perception. It’s a cultural thing, not an individual thing. General forms of Guess Culture are quite prevalent in the privileged classes, as a holdover from the days so many conversational subjects were taboo, and admitting that you simply couldn’t/wouldn’t do something was vulgar. Most of us don’t hold to that in the same way, my mother always was extreme about it, so the conditioning has made it difficult to find a balance for some of us.

Zaku's avatar

@canidmajor Yes, and the two people in the article are, I would say, demonstrating how being at either extreme creates dysfunction.

The comment, the blog post, many of the supporting comments on the blog, and this question, all speak as if it’s accurate to say there are only two cultures, and to expect people to be like one or the other. I would expect healthy people to be somewhere in between.

My skin kind of crawls when I read that blog, and the replies on that blog that seem to respond as if yes, there are two types of people – dysfunctional A and dysfunctional B. I suppose part of it is just the conditioned US thought pattern of only thinking in terms of binary opposites. Maybe after so much binary politics, I’ve grown particularly intolerant. I just kind of feel like I need to say something about it.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor Yes, I understand. You see a lot of that in the South actually, but it is all over the country too. Taken to an extreme it is uncomfortable to watch, but when done in a moderate way I think it is perfectly appropriate. People who are guessers will be quick to think askers are gauche to ask.

canidmajor's avatar

@Zaku A difference of perception, I am sure. I saw the whole thing as a description of a subset of behaviors, rather than an absolute. Kind of like designating by this hair color or that one. Doesn’t describe the complexity of the entire set of physical characteristics of people.

And remember, this was a Metafilter question, not a published monograph in a psychological journal.

Zaku's avatar

Yep, quite so.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I’m an asker surrounded by guessers. I do relate to the passive aggressive feeling. It annoys me a lot that some people just try so hard to make me read their mind when they can just say it for what it is and everything will be resolved. If you want to be a good guesser, you have to establish clear expectation to people around you. Otherwise, misunderstanding is inevitable and you can’t get angry when people don’t know what to do.

kruger_d's avatar

A magazine I like has an advice columnist I don’t. All of her advise either sounds passive aggressive or what she considers a polite lie that will spare hard feelings. I guess I’m an asker and she’s a guesser.

raum's avatar

From my most recent text with my niece:

You need to be willing to have someone say no when you ask. Asking [only] when you know 110% they’re going to say yes isn’t really asking. And paints you into a corner where you are unable to ask. You miss out on yes when you are afraid of no.

Seems like I’m more of an Asker. Though maybe it depends on the relationship dynamics?

Strauss's avatar

A question ain’t really a question if you know the answer too. John Prine Far From Me

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