Re: Everything is fine

1

I'm not sure I buy that "Ask"/"Guess" distinction as a matter of "culture." Seems like more of an individual personality distinction to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:34 PM
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I watched the Meet the Press interview with Holder this morning. Is the linked AP piece, referring to statements by "the Obama administration" referring to just that? It seems so. As far as I know, though, that was Holder on a TV show, not an official administration statement.

That said, I was pretty surprised that Holder said it. Gregory was pushing him pretty hard, but it was entirely open to him to say that the flexibility provided by the exemption for public safety on the reading of Miranda rights was perfectly sufficient. I couldn't tell if he was throwing the terrorist fear-mongers a bone, or really meant this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:35 PM
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The trouble with calling this a cultural distinction is that anyone who thinks it isn't rude is just wrong.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:37 PM
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So which kind of interrogation is part of "Ask Culture" and which part of "Guess Culture"?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:45 PM
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Damn, that's a cute kitten. By the way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:53 PM
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Looking up at the question that prompted the ask/guess theory, I was surprised to see the phrase Endlösung used twice, unselfconsciously, for a minor social matter. Has this become acceptable while I've been moldering?

I find the Ask/Guess distinction useful for some interactions, but not (in my immediate personal experience) as a stable pair of roles.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:55 PM
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Is it weird for me to think that the original poster on the ask/guess thread was both correct and a prick?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 2:58 PM
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1: I was thinking at first that this difference was seen most easily at the level of families and their cultures. Some people grow up in families where it is never rude to ask and others don't.

Then I started thinking about the generalizations people make about Asian cultures, some of which appear to have a basis in fact. I get the distinct impression that that a lot more has to go in the subtext and a lot less in text in social interactions over there. (Although this might simply be because I don't know how to read the subtext.)

Also, there are a lot of cultures where it is very rude to say no to a request, which means that asking for things is a bigger imposition on people.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:00 PM
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I get the distinct impression that that a lot more has to go in the subtext and a lot less in text in social interactions over there.

My impression is that it's just different stuff in the subtext and text categories. Also there's a lot of variation in the different Asian cultures on this one.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:04 PM
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Thanks for the kitten.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:10 PM
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6: We've decided we need a final solution: We are going to exterminate my wife's friends.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:13 PM
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My experience suggests to me Ask Culture is coastal (or maybe urban) and Guess Culture is Midwestern (or maybe rural). Perhaps living in an area where there are high levels of diversity and churn means it's not possible for the nuances of Guess Culture to be learned and shared widely enough to be practical.


Posted by: Frostbite | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:14 PM
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1: one of the posters to the metatalk thread referred to Minnesota Nice.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:17 PM
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6: I didn't really read the Ask thread itself and thought you literally meant the term "Endlösung", which would have been, yeah, pretty surprising.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:18 PM
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The fact that guess culture clashes with cosmopolitanism is a big strike against it. Perhaps in the ideal culture, the person in the original question is not being rude at all.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:23 PM
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Then I started thinking about the generalizations people make about Asian cultures, some of which appear to have a basis in fact. I get the distinct impression that that a lot more has to go in the subtext and a lot less in text in social interactions over there.

Huh. The first example of "Ask Culture" that came to mind was an Asian family I know, who almost seem to cultivate friends for the sole purpose of asking them for help with things. One suspects Asia is a large enough continent to contain multitudes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:25 PM
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Boy do I relate to the Ask culture/guess culture point. My family is completely Ask culture. It dawned on me slowly that people sometimes get very awkward when you ask them things directly.

Actually, my family is the Keep Asking culture. Ask, get told no, ask "Why not?", get some reasons, debate the validity of the reasons, ask again... The Keep Asking culture can definitely get tiring.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 3:58 PM
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My model for guess culture is extremely Texan and southern families. Everything is done in the done way and the other person should offer so that you never have to ask.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:00 PM
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I just remembered something that happened to my mother once - she was invited to breakfast with some older, exceedingly proper woman (in NYC?) who said "Would you like some butter?" in a particular, solicitous way, more than once I think, before my mother realized she was supposed to reply, "No thank you, would you like some butter?"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:02 PM
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the other person should offer so that you never have to ask

This is exactly right. The only thing as rude as asking someone for something, which I would never do, is failing to anticipate the reasonable needs of another person and offer appropriately.

Heebie's family sound like monsters.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:13 PM
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True stories from the guess culture:

I took my Dad to a Dodgers game last Tuesdat (Clayton Kershaw 1st inning meltdown, but that's another story). I was hungry and wanted to get a hot dog the whole time. But I never got up and got one, because I worried that my Dad wasn't hungry and wouldn't want one and that leaving to get one would be rude and make him feel awkward. Meanwhile, my Dad wanted a hot dog the whole time, but apparently was worried that I wasn't eating because I couldn't afford to eat at the stadium (?? these were my tickets), and didn't want to embarass me by suggesting that he buy something I couldn't afford unless I suggested it first. So, neither one of us ate, and then each of us ate alone after the game.

The only reason I learned of this was that I got about an hour of extraordinarily indirect and weird hint-droppings from my Mom about the game and about my finances this morning, and finally was able to get something like an explanation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:13 PM
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16: Yeah, I'm familiar with that dynamic (mostly second hand). I may have been just talking out my ass (again) in 8.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:17 PM
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I think my skepticism about the distinction comes from trying to figure out if my own family falls in the "guess" or "ask" category and being confused, because it doesn't really seem to fit either. Thinking of it in regional terms helps, though; my mom's family (urban, northeastern) is definitely "ask," while my dad's family (rural/small town, western) is more "guess." Given that contrast, it makes sense that my own nuclear family wouldn't really fit into either category.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:19 PM
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21 is awesome. See, heebie? This is how normal families function.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:21 PM
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Personally I'm never sure how to act in any social situation, but I don't know how much of that has to do with this issue.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:23 PM
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The story of your conflicted upbringing is surely the answer!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:23 PM
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21 is so awesome that there's even a name for it: the Abilene paradox.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:36 PM
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21: Remove the family relationship and replace "hot dog" with a penis and you're 2/3rds of the way to literature.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:40 PM
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I took an older male acquaintance of mine to a Dodgers game last Tuesday (Clayton Kershaw 1st inning meltdown, but that's another story). I was hungry and wanted to get a penis the whole time. But I never got up and got one, because I worried that my older male acquaintance wasn't hungry and wouldn't want one and that leaving to get one would be rude and make him feel awkward. Meanwhile, my older male acquaintance wanted a penis the whole time, but apparently was worried that I wasn't eating because I couldn't afford to eat at the stadium (?? these were my tickets), and didn't want to embarrass me by suggesting that he buy something I couldn't afford unless I suggested it first. So, neither one of us ate, and then each of us ate alone after the game.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:43 PM
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30

It's not exactly Dickens.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:44 PM
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31

Apparently, the last third is tricky.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:45 PM
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32

I think maybe the penis shouldn't be directly referenced, but the indirect reference shouldn't involve a meat product.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:47 PM
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Just got clarification on my above anecdote: it was by an American who had spent a long time abroad, possibly raised abroad, and the phrase was "Would you care for some butter?", said only once, because the butter dish was right in front of my mother.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:49 PM
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34

Thanks for taking care of "Tuesdat." Other than that, I hate you all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:49 PM
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35

Sorry Robert.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:51 PM
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36

21 is surreal. How polite of you both.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:55 PM
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30: It was the best of times. It was the wurst of times.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 4:59 PM
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My understanding of the Ask vs. Guess culture from Ben's originally linked comment -- cited as relevant to dating and relationships -- is entirely different from what has emerged in discussion of the MeTa original post, which I hadn't read earlier, regarding having an unwanted guest.

Where dating is concerned, I'd have said that almost the entirety of unfogged is of the Guess persuasion. Certainly general social niceties on this very blog are of the Guess variety. Yet we have people saying that coastal cosmopolitans are the Ask sorts. Huh. Crossed wires in understanding the nature of the distinction, then.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:26 PM
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Where dating is concerned, I'd have said that almost the entirety of unfogged is of the Guess persuasion. Certainly general social niceties on this very blog are of the Guess variety. Yet we have people saying that coastal cosmopolitans are the Ask sorts. Huh.

Yeah, this was the context in which I was initially thinking of the distinction as being more a matter of personality than culture.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:30 PM
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40

The metatalk post.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:34 PM
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41

Vance Maverick seems to get it right upthread with this: I find the Ask/Guess distinction useful for some interactions, but not (in my immediate personal experience) as a stable pair of roles.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:48 PM
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Holy Christ am I from a Guess culture. The anecdote in 19 about the butter has happened to me not once but pretty much every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The thing about the Guess culture is that you perceive requests as impositions on the other person; you don't want to put them in the awkward spot of refusing you or, worse, of grudgingly going ahead. So there's a lot of preliminary manoeuvring* before you can say anything, which often looks passive-aggressive, alas.


*wtf how do you spell this and no i'm not going to google around.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:53 PM
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43

And now I'm going to bake a cake. For me to scarf all for ME!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:56 PM
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OFE : Facebook :: Heebie : Guess families.

It sounds completely crazy-making and insane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 5:58 PM
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45

"Proleptic" was one of Anthony Burgess's favorite little-used words, which meant he used it at any opportunity.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:11 PM
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*wtf how do you spell this and no i'm not going to google around.

stop making rude demands of everyone else and just fucking guess at it, thanks.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:16 PM
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Also I was in one longterm relationship with someone who was dogmatically guess culture, and I think it is particularly poisonous when you're sussing out a new person. (I buy that families can function healthy and fine that way because the kids grew up immersed, and everyone's patterns are entrenched.)

But in a relationship, unless you come from identical families, expecting the other person to anticipate your pointed expressions is a fast-track to walking on eggshells and neurotically overthinking everything.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:16 PM
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a fast-track to walking on eggshells and neurotically overthinking everything.

A small price to pay to avoid rudeness and imposition.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:20 PM
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49

Why? Why? What are your reasons?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:24 PM
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47.2: Sure. But not neurotically overthinking everything is hardly automatic in other conditions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:25 PM
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I love both the links in the original post and 40. Thanks so much, neb. It's a great shorthand to describe such a common phenomenon.

My best friend is an extreme Ask Culture person, and while I can be also blunt with the best of them, I've never in almost two decades been able to explain to her why Guess Culture *makes sense in its own context.* She just can't seem to grasp why it's functional for some people and situations.

And while I'm grateful for the attentiveness that more guess-oriented people taught me (thanks, Mom), when Guess Culture starts to bother me it's often because it's so homogenizing. Guess Culture takes for granted that everyone is operating with the same framework, or at least a set of shared assumptions. That can be incredibly hurtful (e.g., co-worker with a different religion who has just had a death in the family).

Not to say that Ask Culture can't be rude, but my general experience is that when you add even a small amount of cross-cultural factors, the effectiveness of guessing plummets.

Some of the longest arguments of my life have been trying to convince an extremist Ask person that an interaction they had went south because the other person was relying on them to guess/interpret their behavior in a way that the ask person thinks is unnatural/unreasonable.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:28 PM
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My family's solidly in the Guess camp, and I'm much more of an Asker. This puts me into constant trouble, like today when I called my mom for Mother's Day and was told she'd have to call me back, because my brother was there visiting.

You wanted me to come visit? Make it a thing. I'll be there in a hot second.

But the guilt works well, and I've felt like the bad son all day long, so that's fun.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:30 PM
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Here's my family: my parents were in town a month ago. They met the baby-sitter, who unfortunately has a nasty case of acne. They wanted me to tell her father - my colleague - to take her to a dermatologist because it is an easily treatable condition and why leave such a pretty girl with facial scarring?

I explained that that seemed like an embarrassing conversation to have, and they probably know about the existence of dermatologists.

On the phone, we keep having the "Why? Why? Why is it an embarrassing conversation to have? It seems useful!" conversation. Most recently I said, "Do you want his email address? You could tell him yourself."

My parents were like, "Oh, perfect! Yes please!"

I haven't actually decided if I'm going to give them my colleague's email address. But this is how my family functions. You ask "why" until someone patches together a solution you like.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:31 PM
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These examples of Ask versus Guess ways of proceeding seem distinctly to be eliding the possibility of tact.

Heebie's sketches of her family make them sound like tactless blunderers. Surely they can be Ask types with tact.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:40 PM
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The 'ask' vs. 'guess' culture is much on my mind lately, so I had to chime in even though it seems strange to maintain my anonymity by using the name of a world leader from a nation other than my own. Anyway, I lead a political party that has been largely irrelevant until very recently. In my country, people tend to be a bit indirect about things and I don't know what to do. I'd like to get proportional representation, but maybe I have not been direct enough in asking? Or maybe I've been dropping hints that were too strong?


Posted by: Woodrow Wilson | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:40 PM
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I myself am an Ask type with tact. I am a bit of a marvel.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:41 PM
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I mean, I assume. That there could be some tact.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:41 PM
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My parents are Askies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:42 PM
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even though it seems strange to maintain my anonymity by using the name of a world leader from a nation other than my own.

Even stranger to use an email address not other than your own.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:42 PM
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Maybe I should have kept reading.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:43 PM
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61

Interestingly, 54 itself is both tactless and an example of ask culture.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:43 PM
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The trouble with "Ask Culture" is that unless you overenunciate it sounds like "Ass Culture".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:45 PM
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So … what's the trouble?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:45 PM
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64

Essear reads the threads outloud?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:46 PM
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My mother was recently quite pouty on the phone. I could tell she was upset about something. My s-i-l equivalent had a gallery show that afternoon, and I asked my mother if she was going. "No!" "No? Why not?" "No one offered to give me a ride." "Um, did you ask anyone?" "No, but so-and-so kept me on the phone for an hour yesterday talking about how she was driving up and when." "Did you ask her for a ride?" "No." "Yeah, you don't get to pout if you didn't ask anyone." So, that was insane, and yet, I would say I was a Guesser.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:48 PM
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I feel as though I should use pause/play, but this is on-topic: I literally just this minute got a phone call from a person I had one date with. Apparently my after-the-fact e-mail to him was too much "guess" and not enough "ask;" he was calling to get the definitive answer to Should We Have a Second Date?

Naturally I had to tell him about this concept.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:48 PM
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Do you want to have a second date with this individual?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:49 PM
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Because that would be an awesomely cruel way of letting him down.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:49 PM
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Maybe the individual wished to confirm his suspicion that she does not.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:49 PM
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To thread-fuse and contradict my 52 (about which no one's chimed in to tell me I'm not a terrible person, so I'll guess you all think that about me): my mom asked me this evening if I'm engaged, on the reports of several relatives who somethingr on facebook (Mom didn't know what; she's not on FB) to suggest as much.

I'm not engaged and am completely baffled by this. Then again, going to my mom to confirm is sort of Guest-Culture-y; after all, why not just ask me if you're confused.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:50 PM
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Why aren't you engaged?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:51 PM
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Are you engaged? Eekbeat's a nice girl, you know, probably better than you could do if you let her slip through your fingers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:52 PM
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"who somethingr on facebook" s/b "who saw something or other on facebook"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:52 PM
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74

To quote a drunken college friend: I hate you all, and I want a popsicle.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:53 PM
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Oh, I see you aren't engaged. Why not?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:53 PM
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Oh, and on the question of tact: There are certainly ways to be Asker and yet be sensitive to when and what you are asking of people; framing your requests to give them a way out; etc.

The issue is that for a person who is truly steeped in Guess Culture, no amount of courteous phrasing and "Please don't hesitate to let me know if this is not a convenient time," is sufficient, because in their context, a tactful person would not ask to begin with.

Now that we are in the culture of ubiquitous cell phones, I routinely start conversations with "Is this a convenient time to talk?" because I recognize that some people a) will answer their phones even when it's not convenient; and b) will not tell me that it is not a good time to talk.

I realize that I can't babysit them* completely, but I can at least leave the door open for them to say "Yes, you know, I'm actually driving right now, can I call you back a little later?

*My asker roots are showing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:54 PM
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"Someþingr on Facebook" is acceptable if you're speaking Old Norse.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:55 PM
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70: I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that your mom wishes you would call her more, doesn't want to ask this directly, and you've just seen her "A" game.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:55 PM
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61: Actually, it's just blunt. Different category altogether!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:55 PM
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Oh, I see you aren't engaged. Why not?

Because marriage is a tool of the patriarchy I'm a feminist.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:55 PM
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If I suspect that the person I'm talking to on the phone is driving (owing to noise e.g.) I ask in an accusatory tone "are you driving??" and hang up if I get an affirmative answer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:56 PM
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Do you want to have a second date with this individual?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:58 PM
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Argh, let's try that again.

Do you want to have a second date with this individual?

Heebie! I am a modern Ask Culture woman! If I wanted a second date, I would totally ask him out mention an interesting upcoming activity.

Maybe the individual wished to confirm his suspicion that she does not.

Bingo.

going to my mom to confirm is sort of Guest-Culture-y; after all, why not just ask me if you're confused.

Ah, see, around marriage and babies I do often do this, *IF* I know a relative or friend of the person in question well enough. I figure if there is some big, definitive happy news I'll probably hear it regardless, but if there is something difficult going on, it's really helpful to know at least the semi-public version of it so I don't go sticking my foot into my mouth.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 6:59 PM
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See, 82 is a perfect example of why I can't get the hang of Guess Culture.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:00 PM
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85

You're still too subtle for us, Witt.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:00 PM
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86

Bingo.

Awk-ward!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:00 PM
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I'm impressed by how natural and intuitive everyone in this thread seems to find this concept. It was a total revelation to me when I read the link in the post, and I'm still trying to figure out the implications of it for my life. It seems to explain a lot.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:00 PM
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86, I don't think that would necessarily be awkward, if the conversation lasted less than one minute. It's good to close out an account, so to speak, instead of wondering whether possibilities still exist.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:01 PM
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If I suspect that the person I'm talking to on the phone is driving (owing to noise e.g.) I ask in an accusatory tone "are you driving??" and hang up if I get an affirmative answer.

I do this with friends and family. With junior co-workers I say, "Is there a time later that it would be convenient for us to talk? Just a few things to catch up on -- should take about [X] minutes."

With my boss, I just let her talk. And privately fret.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:02 PM
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87: Me, too. It's not like I feel a strong pull towards either one, but, boy howdy, do I have one foot in each world.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:02 PM
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I always guessed Witt was male.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:02 PM
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92

The Guardian column linked indirectly in 40 posits that it's more of a continuum than a discrete choice, which makes sense to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:03 PM
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If Witt took the time to explain asking vs. guessing, I imagine the conversation took more than a minute.

"Oh, so funny you should ask. I was just reading about, I guess you could call it cultural differences people have regarding situations like this, where some people are comfortable just asking outright whereas others try to feel around until they figure they know what's going on so that nothing ever has explicitly to be mentioned. That's doesn't do it justice but it's interesting, isn't it?"
[idle chit chat on this subject]
"Anyway, I guess it's appropriate that you're evidently of the former type because otherwise you might have been wondering for a while, huh? I don't want to see you again, bye."


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:05 PM
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Now that we are in the culture of ubiquitous cell phones, I routinely start conversations with "Is this a convenient time to talk?" because I recognize that some people a) will answer their phones even when it's not convenient; and b) will not tell me that it is not a good time to talk

I do this as well. And yes, my Asker roots are showing.

It's not roots, though: my nuclear family were a bunch of guessers and avoiders, and it drove me crazy. My Asker tendencies or desires, then. I find myself greatly relieved to have straightforward conversations now and again.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:05 PM
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95

That might seem kind of cold to you but when you're a ninja librarian you quickly learn to still your heart.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:06 PM
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It's not like I feel a strong pull towards either one, but, boy howdy, do I have one foot in each world.

Yeah, this is me too. I feel very reluctant to ever ask anyone anything myself, but I do feel like it's appropriate for people in general to ask for things, and I don't mind when people ask me for things directly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:08 PM
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I posit that Witt wears a demure black cloth headband which can be quickly pulled over her eyes, with two slits to see through, rendering her bandit-ready.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:08 PM
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The issue is that for a person who is truly steeped in Guess Culture, no amount of courteous phrasing and "Please don't hesitate to let me know if this is not a convenient time," is sufficient, because in their context, a tactful person would not ask to begin with.

Not to mention that if you ask a guesser, they are likely to accept even when it's really inconvenient or otherwise a problem for them, and, having accepted, insist on it, and not let you say "nevermind" without turning it all into a big deal.

That's how it is with my dad--as an example, he's generally interested in watching the kids occasionally, to give us some free childcare. But it's really awkward to ask him, because he'll never say no, even it's a really bad time for him and even if I say "we were just considering this day/time and could really do it anytime, so let me know if it's bad for you".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:09 PM
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Now that we are in the culture of ubiquitous cell phones, I routinely start conversations with "Is this a convenient time to talk?" because I recognize that some people a) will answer their phones even when it's not convenient; and b) will not tell me that it is not a good time to talk.

I usually answer the phone, bitch at the caller for calling when I'm driving, and then hang up.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:11 PM
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I'm mostly a Guesser, raised Guess (that is, I hate the idea of asking for a favor if I'm not certain the answer is yes, and I will resent someone who asks me for something that I didn't spontaneously want to say yes to because either doing what I don't want to or saying no are both huge impositions). But talking in the abstract, I want to say Askers are right, because how could Guessing possibly work adequately? Still, when I have to deal with Askers, I loathe them. And myself, for loathing them, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:11 PM
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83 --

"Hey, I'm just calling because I was a little confused by your email. I had a great time on Friday night and wasn't sure if you felt the same way. . .. "


"Why, let me tell you about an apt social heuristic some strangers and I were just discussing on the internet a few moments ago. It's about the difference between "ask" and "guess" culture; some people, due to their upbringing tend to feel comfortable asking for things, even when the answer is no, whereas others feel this to be the height of rudeness!"

"Uh OK but about my question . . . . '

"Ah ha! an Asker? Good. Then you won't mind when I tell you, thanks for asking, and I never want to see you again. Denied, Sucka!!!!"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:13 PM
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Little late there Rob.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:14 PM
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I definitely don't apply my family's rules outside my family, unless I have reason to believe the person is on the same page.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:14 PM
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101 has a very Qwantzian feel to it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:15 PM
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Because I know you all are neurotic little shits.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:15 PM
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See, ned gets it. Although 93 is a little close to the bone for comfort. I'm not that rude, honestly!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:15 PM
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Oh god damn the pwnage of 93. Also there is no way that W-lfs-n hangs up on those who call him from their cell phones while driving -- that, itself, is rude!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:17 PM
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Personally I have never in my life known whether any female acquaintance wanted to kiss me or not, at any time after we had met, but before she had actually kissed me. I asked one once and she said no. There went that idea.

It's good to be clearer than most people are.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:18 PM
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But talking in the abstract, I want to say Askers are right, because how could Guessing possibly work adequately?

It obviously works adequately if everyone is on exactly the same cultural page, and fails otherwise. Witt's exactly right about that in 51. Which, obviously, makes it a poor model for an diverse society.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:19 PM
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108.2: Back to discussing dermatology?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:19 PM
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Also there is no way that W-lfs-n [ahem] hangs up on those who call him from their cell phones while driving -- that, itself, is rude!

Well, I don't hang up abruptly—first I explain that what they're doing is unsafe and that they should call me back later, and I will stay on the line if it's clear that the only alternative is actually hanging up on the other party, rather than a mutually agreed-upon end to the conversation. It's only out of love that I do it, which is why I do it most reliably to … my mother!

I appreciate your apparent thought that there's no way I'd do something rude, though.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:20 PM
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I assume we are all gentlemen of manners, here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:21 PM
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which is why I do it most reliably to ... my mother!

In Wisconsin.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:22 PM
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I'm fine with the Ask approach but some askers are assholes. The 2nd to the last post on that thread exactly hits the mark:And now, a story, to illustrate the problems with not being direct with someone. At Thanksgiving, my family and I learned that our friend who was due to pick us up at the airport could not do it, and we were suddenly without a ride home. Our plane landed at around 9 o'clock. Desperate, we compiled a list of friends who lived near the airport and us, and began calling. The first person on a list of about 10 said she could pick us up.

Suddenly without a ride home? Desperate? How about a taxi.

The writer goes on to explain that the person who agreed brought her sleepy kids out with her on a rainy night to pick thekm up and then was upset with poster's wife at work the next day. The poster regrets this and attributes the problem to the good samaritan's reluctance to say no: my wife is a giving person and would do anything to help a friend in need, and so was deeply hurt to learn that her friend did not reciprocate, but importantly, it created a trust issue -- now my wife can't be sure when friend means what she says, because friend said "yes" when she meant "no".

This type of asker needs to be told not "No" but rasther "No. Now go fuck off and die. And lose the number."


Posted by: Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:23 PM
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It's only out of love that I do it, which is why I do it most reliably to ... my mother!

If she called today while driving, you should probably call her back at some point.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:23 PM
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100: Still, when I have to deal with Askers, I loathe them. And myself, for loathing them, of course.

Strong words. Askers cringe before you.

Teo and Stanley upthread are right that this stuff occurs on a continuum: there are degrees of asking and guessing amongst family members and strangers and professional acquaintances. One might even say that there's a whole protocol involved, and knowing the differing protocols among varying groups is a large part of social literacy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:24 PM
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Yeah, what you ought to learn from an interaction like that is that some people are very reluctant to say "no" and are correspondingly easy to impose on, so you should be careful what you ask of them. They don't mean "no" by "yes", they just don't want to let you down.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:24 PM
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117 to 114.

If she called today while driving, you should probably call her back at some point.

Ever since I forgot her birthday I've been pretty diligent about holidays and the like.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:25 PM
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Sorry, And now, a story, to illustrate the problems with not being direct with someone is part of the post i was quoting.


Posted by: Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:25 PM
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118: You just saved me from forgetting my sister's birthday. Thanks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:27 PM
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This type of asker needs to be told not "No" but rasther "No. Now go fuck off and die. And lose the number."

This is a bit harsh. I would have called friends, and began the phone call something like:

"Hi! Heebie here with a favor. Before I ask let me tell you I've got a dozen people, and I'm working my way down a list. So I'm not in a pinch if this isn't convenient for you. But my family was unexpectedly left without a ride home from the airport - are you free?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:28 PM
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"Hi! Heebie here with a favor. Before I ask let me tell you I've got a dozen people, and I'm working my way down a list. So I'm not in a pinch if this isn't convenient for you. But my family was unexpectedly left without a ride home from the airport - are you free?"

That's tactful enough that you probably deserve to live. And my response would probably be: "I've got sleeping kids, so it would be tough, but please let me know if you cycle through the list and can't find anyone else, and I'd be happy to come help". But if you cycled through your list and then called me back, I'd come get you, but, unless I knew you were hard up for money, I'd still be very irritated that you didn't just take a cab.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:32 PM
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And the person who got their kids out of bed to pick someone up at the airport - and then resent them for it! - is completely insane. Of course they can get a taxi.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:33 PM
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I assume we are all gentlemen of manners, here.

Except when you're assuming that we're tactless brutes...oh wait. You said gentlemen. Err....

And 121 is exactly how I would handle it, assuming that I was landing in a place without available or safe taxi service.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:33 PM
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an diverse society

Apparently more diverse than I had realized, language-wise.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:33 PM
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Actually, unless I knew you were hard up for money, I'd probably be irritated that you didn't just take a cab irrespective of whether you called me back.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:33 PM
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I should probably call my mom. She called me yesterday and we talked for a while, so it would really just be a courtesy call for the holiday, but I should do it anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:34 PM
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I'm not sure about the "get a taxi" thing. I know a lot of people who've never gotten a taxi in their lives and the idea simply wouldn't occur to them.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:35 PM
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122 is exactly the response I would expect. And I would take a cab before calling back.

Off to play soccer!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:35 PM
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It obviously works adequately if everyone is on exactly the same cultural page, and fails otherwise. Witt's exactly right about that in 51. Which, obviously, makes it a poor model for an diverse society.

Which is presumably why Asking is more associated with big cities and Guessing with small towns.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:35 PM
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it is an easily treatable condition

Not always!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:35 PM
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I once skimmed through a self-help book that was called something like "How to Manipulate People." I've never been able to find it again, due to its generic title. But this slim book was full of useful points that I've taken to heart, at least theoretically. One of these is that people are more attracted to, and loyal towards, those who ask them for favors than those who do favors for them. In other words, people like you more when you make them do things for you than when you do things for them.

This goes against my upbringing, but I believe it is true!

Another tip: flexibility is the cornerstone of physical attractiveness.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:35 PM
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Except when you're assuming that we're tactless brutes...oh wait. You said gentlemen. Err....

Halford hasn't said anything about tact that I can see.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:36 PM
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And the person who got their kids out of bed to pick someone up at the airport - and then resent them for it! - is completely insane. Of course they can get a taxi.

Not insane at all. Premised on "it's rude to say 'no' to a request for help". If someone called me with the request--assuming they didn't mention up front that they have a list of names (like you in 121)--I'd say "sure, I guess I can come get you, but I'll have to get the kids out of bed, so it will take a few minutes." That's my not-subtle hint that this is very inconvenient for me, and I'm hoping you'll retract your request. If you don't, I'll come get you, and I'll resent you for it. "She knew I had kids in bed! Why didn't she just take a cab?""


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:39 PM
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@122 & 123
I understand my response is somewhat NY centric since it's not the norm ther eto ask people to do the airport shuttle. I had a dear friend another city who always used to ask to be driven to/picked up at the airport and I always did it, though I thought it was ridiculous, sine he would and had knocked himself out for me in other ways.

My inappropriate hostility there is that the poster apparently thinks that he and his wife have been victimized by the other person's failure to say no, not by his own [to my mind, absurdly presumptuous] request. He gives the impression of being a Taker, which I would regard as a loathesome subset of the Asker community.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:40 PM
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134: Well, yeah, sort of. If someone asks me for something apparently unreasonable, my starting assumption is that circumstances must make it a reasonable, necessary request. If I were even a little hurried or confused, I might say yes to "Come get me at the airport" and haul my kids out of bed, because I'd think that no one would ask unless they really needed a ride.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:43 PM
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But this slim book was full of useful points that I've taken to heart, at least theoretically. One of these is that people are more attracted to, and loyal towards, those who ask them for favors than those who do favors for them. In other words, people like you more when you make them do things for you than when you do things for them.

A recent example really brings this home to me. Let's say someone (possibly a member of the family in #16) is constantly giving you things that you don't want, could easily get for yourself, and didn't ask for. This person really thinks that it will make you much more receptive to doing what she says, when she asks you to do things. And in fact, she's right, but only because this dynamic is taking place in the workplace and you can't start an intense campaign of explaining your motivation to people, so it's just easier to make it seem like you're helping her out and she is giving you things in return, instead of the opposite (accurate) chronological situation. But *actually*, the more things you don't want that she gives you, the more you dread ever seeing her and eventually, your resentment will grow to the point at which you may actually refuse to do something.

And the quoted passage implies that this would be true even if she was giving us things that we wanted. In that case we would be both resenting her for giving us things, and resenting ourselves for not being grateful.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:44 PM
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Actually, unless I knew you were hard up for money, I'd probably be irritated that you didn't just take a cab irrespective of whether you called me back.

This, and I would also feel obligated to help you out, whether or not it was convenient to me. Also, if I somehow managed to say "no, it's really not convenient," I would feel like a horrible person who let down the team and will never deserve your love again.

I wish I weren't like that, honest.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:45 PM
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I do wonder how this framing squares with humanities vs. science/engineering types. I play in a band with three science/engineering types, and I'm routinely assigned the duty of talking to people when we arrive at a gig. The stated reason being "you're good at talking to people", which is probably just my willingness to state Asky things in a Guessy way: "Would it be possible to get that table moved and perhaps acquire an extension cord? It would definitely make the event go more smoothly. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaanks."

I feel so Lumberg when it happens.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:45 PM
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87 I'm impressed by how natural and intuitive everyone in this thread seems to find this concept. It was a total revelation to me when I read the link in the post, and I'm still trying to figure out the implications of it for my life.

The concept seemed pretty natural to me, but thinking it over is leading me to re-evaluate some things. I have been surprised on a few occasions when people ask me to do something and I say I can't and nothing happens and they continue to be friendly to me. I should try this more often.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:45 PM
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122: I once had to call a friend at some ridiculously early hour in the morning and ask him to meet me in front of my apartment -- with money! -- because I didn't have enough cash to pay my cab (thunderstorms delayed my flight for hours and finally diverted it to Newark, and the cabs there don't all take plastic and I -- long story -- have no debit card). Now, on the one hand, this is a "move a body" sort of friend, and on the other, he does a lot of blow and I was fairly certain he'd be awake.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:46 PM
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I endorse 136.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:49 PM
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142 sort of to 141, and it sounds like your request was objectively reasonable, so no resentment applies.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:50 PM
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132 reminds me of Influence by Robert Cialdini. I had it in a class from my very small first college, but when I got to Rather Bigger College it was everywhere, issued in a popular lecture.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:52 PM
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flexibility is the cornerstone of physical attractiveness.

Tell me more.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:55 PM
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In re The People vs. Rides to the Airport, I will gladly give you a ride to the Union Station Flyaway, which will get you to the airport in 30 minutes flat.

I'm a soft touch for rides to the airport, but really, you know how easy the flyaway is, right?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:56 PM
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Slightly shorter 145: "bend my ear".


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:57 PM
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I wonder how neatly this divide maps onto the divide between those who feel they can't ignore a friend request on facebook, because it would be rude, and those who ignore with abandon.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 7:59 PM
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145:I'm hoping that's some kind of intellectual flexibility. If we're talking literal physical bendability, I'd be terribly, terribly unappealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:00 PM
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132 -- Hmmm. I don't think it was Cialdini, who seems to be suggesting the conventional wisdom that reciprocity works -- you give a favor to get a favor. The point of the self-help book I read was much more aggressively assholish -- impose on people and they will like you; do favors for them, and they will feel burdened by the sense that they owe you a reciprocal obligation.

Looking on Amazon, I think that this may have been the book. It now looks like it's only available for $235.00.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:02 PM
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149 -- Physical flexibility. I'm about the least flexible dude on earth and was pretty crushed by this, but I think there's something to the theory.

146 -- Dude, that's a bus


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:05 PM
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Don't you always have friends, though, upon whom you know you can call for anything in a pinch? In those cases calculations about whether you're imposing, whether they feel imposed upon, and so on go out the window. I think they're outside the scope of the Ask vs. Guess culture distinction.

As far as rides to, or pickups from, the airport go, it has a lot to do with how far away the airport is, and how much of a hassle it is to get there. It's geographically contingent, I would think.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:06 PM
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I'm reasonably flexible. Huzzah.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:08 PM
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I come from a long line of Midwestern Guesser-Americans (the pauses often convey more information than the words in family phone conversations) so I frequently find myself nonplussed by the subset of my wife's family who push beyond Askers into Tellers. But in general I envy Askers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:09 PM
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I'm highly inflexible. Laydeez.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:09 PM
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This thread has made me think of all the things I've told other people I would do and now I'm feeling overwhelmed. How does one say "no", again?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:10 PM
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"Inflexible" s/b "stiff as a board", which is what I am. Laydeez


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:11 PM
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152: People who will "do you a solid"?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:12 PM
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Thinking it over more, I think I was never acculturated into either group, so my attitude toward these situations is shaped mainly by my own personality, which makes it much less coherent and more context-dependent than seems to be the case for many other people.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:12 PM
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156: You pause, say "hmmm" and then change the subject.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:12 PM
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How does one say "no", again?

Like this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:13 PM
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Don't you always have friends, though, upon whom you know you can call for anything in a pinch?

No.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:14 PM
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How does one say "no", again?

Like this.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:23 PM
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162: Yes, I'm sorry. I realized after the fact that that was presumptuous. I have one local friend with whom I have a relationship like that: we look after each other's houses and pets and plants if need be. But it's not necessarily the case that everyone would have a local friend like that.

Even that friend sometimes falls over himself to explain that he "owes me one," and "he'll make good" and weird things like that. To which I always want to say: Friend, dude, that's what friends are for! Relax! You're in the freaking hospital! It's all good. We are not counting up stones and moving them back and forth across a line to see who owes what to whom.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:27 PM
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We are not counting up stones and moving them back and forth across a line to see who owes what to whom.

Except if he is! From the linked thread:

Line-item culture: Has a social relationship with people, wants to maintain this. Pays careful attention to favors, gifts and nice things mentally record keeps and try's to keep score so that they are on equal standing and treating the friendship with the same amount of respect as the other party. Gets offended and upset if the other party doesn't acknowledge or notice their contributions.
Commune culture: Has a social relationship with people, wants to maintain this. Try's to share generously whenever they have a windfall or if someone seems to be in need. Assumes it all works out in the end. Views favors as contributions to the friend bank in a general sense not worried about parity just about an absolute willingness to respond in the same way. Gets offended when someone asks permission to borrow or seems hesitant to ask favors or seems to assume "they are keeping track."
Essentially, line-item culture wants to really make sure they are holding up their end of the friendship by remaining on equal parity. Commune culture wants to make sure they are holding up their end of the friendship by playing what's mine is yours. Commune culture gets annoyed when line item people try to pay them back. To them that's not something friends do. Line item culture gets annoyed when commune culture refuses their attempt to pay back, because they feel like their contributions aren't being acknowledged.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:36 PM
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||

simmered pork hock, mustard, fresh sauerkraut: tasty!

|>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:36 PM
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fresh sauerkraut

Huh?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:39 PM
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yeah, I dunno.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:40 PM
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Line-item culture: Has a social relationship with people, wants to maintain this. Pays careful attention to favors, gifts and nice things mentally record keeps and try's to keep score so that they are on equal standing and treating the friendship with the same amount of respect as the other party. Gets offended and upset if the other party doesn't acknowledge or notice their contributions.

My parents have elderly neighbors who belong to some form of this culture, where they do things like invite my parents over for dinner and then expect to receive a "hostess gift" in return, and vice versa, not to mention the dog-watching and cake-giving and all sorts of other reciprocal arrangements. There's a lot of mental bookkeeping involved in tracking who has done what how many times. It all seems rather silly.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:46 PM
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165: Thanks for that. Commune culture. Guilty. It can be a bit more messy in the particulars than that, but that's generally right on, I'd say.

This is making me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:47 PM
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Now I am enjoying some armagnac. My life is not all bad.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:58 PM
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I think I commented on one of the recent renters/homeowners threads (RTFA) that I had joined the ranks of the Homeowners despite being a lowly Renter, due to the alacrity of snow removal I displayed during this winter's snowpocalypse.

As a result, I was cornered by all the elderly neighbors when I got a new lawnmower. Dudes? It's a lawnmower. Chill out.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 8:58 PM
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172: Buying a mower is the sort of thing a man only does when he is thinking about getting married.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:01 PM
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In Wisconsin, maybe.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:02 PM
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172: ? I thought the primary benefit of renting was the lack of lawnmower ownership.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:04 PM
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Stanley is displaying signs of home ownership, there's just no way around it. Soon he'll be sporting hedge clippers. Perhaps there will be flower beds, but that's a bit in the future, he's a young lad after all, and might not be in possession of a garden hose as yet.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:08 PM
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He may as well get married now.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:11 PM
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He isn't married? Why not?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:11 PM
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Because he's a bad son.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:12 PM
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Oh, wait, I get it--Stanley must run some sort of lawn care service. That makes sense. I was genuinely confused there for a few minutes.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:16 PM
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"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good mower must be in want of a wife."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:17 PM
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I own a lawnmower. I don't have a lawn. I just like to idle it, because otherwise I don't really use any gas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:18 PM
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Tweety, if you were a member of the commune culture, you'd be lending that lawnmower out left and right to all your poor friends who could really use to mow their damn lawns.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:21 PM
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182: You sure got over that quickly.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:22 PM
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Well, it's not like I'm Obama.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:26 PM
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I've seen a couple of people around here with electric mowers. I'd probably slice the cord, but it must be much better for the air quality than a 2-cycle engine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:27 PM
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You can't, like, mow electric.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:28 PM
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It's like tripping the light fantastic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:29 PM
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If this is the thread to reassure us that everything is fine, do any of the local lawyer-types have thoughts on the Kagan nomination? The Crooked Timber thread is not making me feel good about it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:48 PM
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The unglamorous reality is, in some comity of ask/guess culture, I demanded a lawnmower be included with the lease, but my then-roommate promptly ran that lawnmower over a rock, and it died. We pieced together a Frankenstein of parts that resembled a lawnmower, which worked for several years but finally crapped out. And that's how the universe signed me up for lawnmower ownership.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:49 PM
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So the replacement lawnmower was furnished by the landlord, I assume.

The Crooked Timber thread is not making me feel good about it.

But that one article of hers was very well received!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:51 PM
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So the replacement lawnmower was furnished by the landlord, I assume.

No, a cow-orker was giving away a mower missing a wheel. I jerry-rigged a wheel from the dead mower onto it. We were too embarrassed to tell Mr. Landlord we'd just killed the nice mower we'd busted.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:55 PM
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uh, "the nice mower he'd bought" I mean


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 9:56 PM
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But that one article of hers was very well received!

Yeah, I also don't know how to judge that. Google Scholar says it's been cited over 500 times, which in my field would tend to mean either it's a pretty groundbreaking work or it's a useful review article that contributes nothing new. Not sure how to extrapolate to a field as foreign as law, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 10:01 PM
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Edward Jones. They have offices all over the place... little two person operations consisting of a financial planner and a secretary. When you add up all the commissions and mutual fund fees and whatnot, its not particularly cheap. But its a decent service, they help you keep on top of things, and if you ever need to buy other financial products like, say, life insurance, you just call them up and they make all the arrangements handle all the paperwork.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 10:10 PM
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Drat, wrong thread.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 10:11 PM
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I usually answer the phone, bitch at the caller for calling when I'm driving hit the brakes hard enough to make the tires squeal, scream, and then hang up.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 10:18 PM
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I don't know if a Bay Area meet-up will be attempted this week, but it turns out that the 14th probably will not work for me. But I'll be around until the end of the summer.

Also, I left my laptop power cord a few hundred miles away, so I probably won't be around for a while. I don't really need the internet at home immediately, and since I don't do anything pseudonymous anywhere except on my own laptop, it could be a few days. Or maybe I'll just get a cord tomorrow. I haven't decided yet.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 10:55 PM
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Actually, maybe not until the end of the summer, but until the end of July.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 9-10 11:18 PM
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Mutual funds have to file what they're holding with the SEC every once in a while (I think twice a year). You can find out what they're holding at the SEC's website.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 5:37 AM
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Fu-uck.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 5:39 AM
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Hah! I just realized it's Spike's fault at 195!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 5:42 AM
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||
No more masturbating to Lena Horne.
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 5:54 AM
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203: I can finish first, right? Or do I need to stop as soon as I get the news?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 6:15 AM
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Okay, gender-wars thought on the Ask/Guess distinction. In a dating context (not generalizing past those parts of American society I'm comfortable with, of course), men are supposed/allowed to behave by Ask rules, women by Guess rules, and a lot of discomfort and conflict comes from incompatibility there.

I'm not sure if this is right, but does it sound explanatory to anyone else?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:20 AM
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Huh. I completely prefer Ask, but i tend to be more of a Guess person because most everyone else seems so easily offended (ie i'm several std deviations out on how willing i am to enjoy someone telling me to fuck off)


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:26 AM
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Women get typically (and rightly) chastised a lot in advice columns/call-in radio shows/general MSM, etc, for being Guess culture instead of Ask culture. "Tell him what you want! He can't read your mind!"

Men get typically (rightly) chastised in these same venues for being Absentee culture and avoiding participating in any emotional conversation whatsoever, not for being Ask culture. So in only works to a degree, IMO.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:28 AM
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Women get typically (and rightly) chastised a lot in advice columns/call-in radio shows/general MSM, etc, for being Guess culture instead of Ask culture. "Tell him what you want! He can't read your mind!"

Well, right -- the amount of chastisement that gets handed out to women for being Guessers suggests to me that there's a strong norm for women to, in practice, actually be Guessers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:30 AM
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Right. That was the half that worked for me. The half that you applied to men was the half that did not work for me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:32 AM
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I would say that in the dating world men often get the message that women know what men are thinking, but men don't know what women are thinking, and yet men are supposed to be the ones who initiate every suggestion about what to do together. This leads to resentment among people who follow the script too much.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:34 AM
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Well, women objecting to being hit on by men they're not interested in are objecting from a Guess position to Askers, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:34 AM
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211 to 209. Really, I don't have much of anyplace useful to go with this, it just seemed valid enough that someone else might be able to pick it up and run with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:36 AM
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The cliche is that after the initial chase, men are emotionally absentee from relationships. So sure, during the chase, men are Askers because otherwise there is no chase. But I don't think hitting on strangers is a typical context for the ask/guess distinction. Flirting isn't a way of managing an ongoing relationship.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:38 AM
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I don't have much of anyplace useful to go with this, it just seemed valid enough that someone else might be able to pick it up and run with it.

Well, it looks like I crapped all over that .


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:43 AM
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Eh, maybe unsuccessfully. Someone else could still get interested.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 9:44 AM
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I wish you would just tell us what you wanted us to say, LB.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:04 AM
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||
Is there any sex act SEK hasn't interrupted?
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:10 AM
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I'll have a go: maybe women -- even women who are otherwise habituated to Ask culture -- are more inclined to expect that mutual Guessiness is a hallmark of a well-functioning relationship, and conversely to perceive Guessing failures as signs of a relationship failure or character deficiency.

Actually, you don't even need to bring gender into it for the conjecture to have merit: perhaps there exists a class of individuals who, whatever their stance on Ask vs. Guess in the wider world, have a starkly elevated Guess expectation in the context of a romantic relationship: "If he (she) really loved me / if we were really meant for each other / if he (she) were really such a catch, then he (she) would have intuited [insert disappointed expectation here]."


Posted by: Awkwardly Presidential | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:11 AM
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Is it just me or is 218 a flagrant abuse of presidential privilege? There's nothing private there...


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:13 AM
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217. He's never interrupted one involving me, as far as I know, but maybe his methods were just very indirect.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:14 AM
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219: it could be that Awkwardly P is half of a relationship whose other half also reads.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:18 AM
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219 notwithstanding, 218 strikes me as broadly correct. Although I think the gendered formulation is more broadly correct than the genderless formulation.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:21 AM
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Awkward P should be somebody's rap name.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:22 AM
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218: I can see that, and I'd probably be one of those people to an extent. Asking seems to me like a bruteforce and uncomfortable way to get over a communication failure; in an area of a relationship that's working well, Guessing should work fine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:25 AM
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in an area of a relationship that's working well,

This is a gigantic qualifier, of course.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:27 AM
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223: Back in 2000, when dopey web-toys were still new and amusing, all the lawyers on a case I was on had fun generating their Wu-Tang Clan name from an online generator. ("Ol' Musty Terrahawk" here.) Fun turned to tragedy when a rather proper midlevel associate drew "Dubious Mastabata", and was unamused.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:28 AM
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Asking sure is getting a bad rap here. Understanding it in terms of the MeFi original post, about an uninvited guest asking to stay, I can see that; but viewing it more broadly as being active rather than passive, I find it harder to condemn.

Extending it even further to approximate a distinction between the masculine and the feminine makes it even more problematic to champion the latter over the former. That leads pretty quickly to what I keep hearing as an echo of the suggestion that, say, women who are Askers are distastefully unfeminine. Eek.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:47 AM
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217: Professor CockBlock strikes again!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:51 AM
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Doctor Cockblock has pleasing internal rhyme. If you know what I mean.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:53 AM
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Doc CockBlock.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:54 AM
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Doc Jacques CockBlock.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:57 AM
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Doc CockBlock's Cookbook


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:59 AM
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223: Awkward P should be somebody's rap name.

You've got Awkward P
Right here in River City
And that ends with P
And that rhymes with T
And that stands for Turtle.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:00 AM
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In stock: Doc Jacques CockBlock's Wok-Around-The-Clock Cookbook


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:02 AM
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Blocked cock got you black, Jack? Don't quack, bake cakes with Doc Jacques CockBlock's Wok-Around-The-Clock Cookbook.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:06 AM
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Dot com.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:07 AM
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I love implementing mutually agreeable protocols for Asking. It's my favorite kind of relationship innovation. And that is how it came to pass that in our house it is perfectly conventional and polite to say "Praise me!" Probably we should take some care to ensure that the baby does not acquire the delusion that this is standard behavior.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:07 AM
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Doc Jacques Cockblock's Crockpot Ham Hocks are sure to get results.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:09 AM
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Doc Jacques Cockblock's Crockpot Ham Hocks in Cock Stock (the poor rooster), you mean.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:13 AM
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237: Although I've been sounding all Guessy throughout, I also love this sort of thing. Mostly I call it in for craft projects -- I expect a certain amount of awe for, e.g., the gingerbread house, and will affirmatively request it if it doesn't show up spontaneously.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:13 AM
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They're top-notch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:13 AM
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Speaking of, I expected a lot of praise for my post on waste about Sandra Lee.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:15 AM
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It was indeed praiseworthy, for values of praiseworthy that include batshit insane. Which they should.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:18 AM
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240: I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:30 AM
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Women get typically (and rightly) chastised a lot in advice columns/call-in radio shows/general MSM, etc, for being Guess culture instead of Ask culture. "Tell him what you want! He can't read your mind!"
Well, right -- the amount of chastisement that gets handed out to women for being Guessers suggests to me that there's a strong norm for women to, in practice, actually be Guessers.

Pages 90-95 of this book is interesting:

http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Mars-Venus-Different-Languages/dp/0199550999/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Both men and women when refusing somebody avoid using the word "no" so as to avoid hurting people's feelings. Which is fine. But it turns out in some rape cases make a big deal about the women not using the word "no" in their refusal of sex.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:32 AM
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244: Oh, that's very cute. You probably saw mine when I posted it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:34 AM
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Nicetry, Knecht. (LB has posted other cake photos but I can't seem to find them in only a few seconds.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:34 AM
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Ok, not a gingerbread house, but still.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:37 AM
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Asking benefits talky thinkers-- you can ask for a carefully thought out minimal first step, using wile and chatter to get what you want. Salesmen are askers, often following scripts that someone else has developed. Understanding what someone else wants shows empathy, kindness.

Deborah Tannen's book about different conversational styles for men and women was pretty good-- not great, but thought-provoking, and definitely pointed out things I had not toniced.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:39 AM
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The discussion about the cake in 246 is possibly where I picked up the term "mansard roof" (I'm certain that it was here and fairly certain that LB is the person who introduced me to it), and I've been boring people ever since by pointing out every mansard roof I see.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:40 AM
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Stanley's the guy who bores people by explaining the titles of Vampire Weekend songs.


Posted by: Stanley's friends | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:43 AM
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249: Asking benefits talky thinkers-- you can ask for a carefully thought out minimal first step, using wile and chatter to get what you want. Salesmen are askers, often following scripts that someone else has developed.

Well, yeah. A negative side of Ask culture is that an unscrupulous Asker has a very easy time bullying a Guesser. Guessers won't say no unless they really, really have their heels dug in and have a good reason for calling the request unreasonable in itself, so an Asker can get a lot of compliance out of a Guesser by framing their requests properly. The stuff lemmy linked in 245 is interesting on applying this stuff to he-said/she-said rape issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:46 AM
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246: I had not seen it. I am humbled.

250: I think that is technically not a mansard roof, but a conventional hipped roof. If JRoth is around he can opine more authoritatively.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:46 AM
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250: Don't you mean "boring in on"? You know, like a drill?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:48 AM
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237 gets it exactly right. This is one of the things that I love most about my family.

Part of my growing up, and a huge part of my developing some social confidence, was actively deciding to be an Asker in close relationships. If I like you, I will ask you to be my friend. If I'm wondering where we stand on something, I will ask. If I'm making plans with friends, I will ask for what I need and my friends will ask for what they need and we will find a plan that works for everyone. Success depends strongly on everyone's being willing to ask for what they need, but this works with my friends and my god is it easier. In my marriage, Guessing is 100% not the way forward: when I told my husband about the dichotomy, he found it impossible to believe that the AskMe poster could have proposed the dichotomy without painting the Guess way as awful and untenable.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:48 AM
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254: I did. Which reminds me: I really need to home the drill bit; it's getting dull.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:49 AM
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255: Just thinking about what would make that difficult for me -- do you, or did you when you started doing this, have trouble with either accepting that people were going to say no to you a lot, or feeling as if you were bullying people into going along with you when they didn't want to? Or was it smooth from the beginning?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:52 AM
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One thing I try to do to make it easier for people to say no if they need to is to phrase requests such that they can give a negative answer without using the word "no". "What are the chances that I could borrow your lawnmower on Saturday?" "Pretty slim, I'm afraid." "Oh, okay, thanks anyway." I'm not asking them to make a decision right now on whether to do me a favor, I'm asking them to consult an impersonal probability distribution to which I'm not privy and let me know what it says. It's a fiction, but it seems to give people useful cover.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:04 PM
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Personally, I phrase all requests such that the person being solicited understands that I'm presenting him or her with an opporunity—the chance of a lifetime to be in my good graces.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:20 PM
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An opporunity is like an opportunity you later regret.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:21 PM
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A blog about being an asker.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:24 PM
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258: This makes utter sense to me; my household has a (smallish) network of friends with whom favors like that are traded all the time.

You Ask in a conditional voice: "Hey, [this and that, this and that, cordial catching up], and I've been wondering whether you're using your 20-foot extension ladder lately. We've got some gutter problems here, and I was thinking this weekend would be a good time to get up there and take a look."

This isn't any way bullying or barging in; people can, and do, easily say "No, not now" if it's inconvenient, and no small animals are harmed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:34 PM
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and no small animals are harmed

Yeah, unless it's a dead hamster or something clogging the gutters. I mean, really, how could you be so heartless, parsimon?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:38 PM
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257: What matters for me is knowing where I stand. All through school and college, I felt like I was on the periphery of my friend groups; people were happy enough to see me, but I couldn't have told you whether they would describe me as a close friend or as a friend or as an acquaintance. This was... problematic for my mental health. After college, two lovely people separately sought me out and made it clear that they considered us friends. This was so, so great. The enormous relief and pleasure I felt then make me think---and this may be a total failure of my theory of mind---that people I like but am not yet friends with will be pleased if I pull them aside and say hey, I like you. Can we be friends? Because then we can get on with being friends, and skip all the wasted time when we're not.

That this has worked very well is probably due to grown-up me* being able to spot my kind of people at fifty paces---I don't ask unless I'm pretty darn sure---and to my affect, which is not what you'd call domineering. Thinking back, I was not at all shy about asking boys out, and lord knows that never worked. So I guess I had some practice hearing no, and I knew it would be okay to hear. Mostly, though, what pushed me forward was knowing how unhealthy I would be if I didn't just ask.

*and I apologize for the lack of a possessive here, but "grown-up my being able" is plainly not the way to go


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:44 PM
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I felt like I was on the periphery of my friend groups; people were happy enough to see me, but I couldn't have told you whether they would describe me as a close friend or as a friend or as an acquaintance. This was... problematic for my mental health.

This happened to me in high school. I was recently reminded of how stressful that was.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:47 PM
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My comments above notwithstanding, the project of the blog linked in 261 is kind of terrifying.

Heebie, it sucks that you got that reminder. I hope it wasn't too vivid.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 12:55 PM
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258, 262, 264: Huh, this is one of those moment when I realize that everyone draws lines in a different place. Everything you say you're doing sounds like Guess rather than Ask as I'd define them, just Guess that's working hard on communicating successfully. The conditional phrasing of requests, while I realize it's a polite fiction, is huge for me, in that it permits an indirect refusal.

And this: "I don't ask unless I'm pretty darn sure", sounds Guessy, rather than Asky, to me as well -- what I've been thinking of as Ask culture is "It's okay for me to ask for anything I want, regardless of how anyone else is likely to feel about the request. All they have to do is say no. And I can keep Asking, regardless of the negative signals I'm getting, until I get what I want or I get a flat refusal."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:00 PM
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265: You're still funnier than them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:00 PM
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268: You always know just what to say.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:07 PM
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what I've been thinking of as Ask culture is "It's okay for me to ask for anything I want, regardless of how anyone else is likely to feel about the request. All they have to do is say no. And I can keep Asking, regardless of the negative signals I'm getting, until I get what I want or I get a flat refusal."

Under this, I'm not Ask culture whatsoever. My core beliefs are:
1. I'm not going to second-guess anyone's words.
2. I am going to take into account your situation, best as I know it, and the nature of the request, and try to only make reasonable requests.
3. Like GB, I'll try to give people an easy way out, to let them decline without saying "no"
4. I really will not hold it against someone for declining.

The airport example last night was a little contrived, because in reality I'd easily take a cab home in that situation. But I could play the part of someone who wanted a ride instead pretty easily.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:12 PM
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what I've been thinking of as Ask culture is "It's okay for me to ask for anything I want, regardless of how anyone else is likely to feel about the request. All they have to do is say no. And I can keep Asking, regardless of the negative signals I'm getting, until I get what I want or I get a flat refusal."

Right. And that's such an extreme of behavior that I doubt many people at all engage in it.

Within close families, I suppose you get Asky behavior where there's a lot of presumption. Otherwise, it seems likely that most people fall within a range of Guess behavior, according to which there are degrees of understanding about what's askable and what's not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:13 PM
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This point might have been made already on the MeFi thread, but for me, a Guess culture person, when someone asks me for something, it can sometimes feel like a test of our friendship, and if I refuse, I fail the test, and there will be consequences.

But usually I don't mind doing things for people and, confusingly enough, am sometimes even disappointed not to be asked, as in, "Did this person feel like s/he couldn't ask me because we weren't good enough friends?" Especially if a friend asks several people to help him or her move, and doesn't ask me -- I feel left out!

As Jackmormon said upthread, I wish I weren't this way!


Posted by: Clancy | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:16 PM
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267.2: the not asking unless I'm pretty darn sure applies much more to major friendship requests and much less to asking for the use of a lawnmower. Asking "regardless of how anyone else is likely to feel about the request" sounds deliberately tone-deaf, and continuing to ask regardless of negative signals is definitely out, but I don't think that asking for something reasonable is an imposition in itself, and I do think that asking (conditionally!) saves time and fuss.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:30 PM
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Shorter 273: 270.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:31 PM
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Except that 270 is longer. I should get back to work.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:32 PM
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Clearly, there's a continuum from hardcore Askers to hardcore Guessers, and there's a lot of overlap in the middle. I'm sounding all bigoted about being Guess, and I think it's because I don't notice people playing by different rules until they're well outside my comfort zone -- the Ask behavior I notice as Asky is only the most extreme.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:37 PM
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If I were to draw on parodies of geographical stereotypes, I would speculate like so:

I bet LB and I have fairly similar behavior, just we're contrasted against opposite backgrounds. LB is in the middle of New York, which is stereotypically over-asky, and so that's what she's overexposed to and gets irritated with. I'm in the middle of Texas, which is stereotypically over-guessy, and I get really irritated with these elaborate guessing games.

Comity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 1:46 PM
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I finally figured out where I would place myself on this continuum.

I'm not a guesser because I don't believe that there's anything wrong in asking and because I don't trust my ability to read other people / social cues.

It isn't true that I will only ask if I'm confident that the answer will be yes.

But, I'm a sufficiently anxious that I will only ask if I have mapped out in my head my response to the various possible reactions that somebody could have to my question ("how will I feel and what will I say if they say yes? If they say no? if they get offended? If they suggest that I ask somebody else") which is a sufficient amount of work that it discourages me from asking for anything unless (a) I'm relatively confident of the answer or (b) it's something that I really need.

I wouldn't call anybody and would just take a cab home from the airport (I have, actually, asked people to pick me up from the airport but that was a case when I was returning late in the evening at a time when there was no shuttle running within 3 hours of my arrival time. I owed the friend who picked me up, big time).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:02 PM
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I remember once realizing that one reason my friend A's mother was so comfortable to get along with was that she was very comfortable with saying "no". You didn't have to agonize over whether some (reasonableish) request or invitation might be presumptuous, because if she didn't want to do whatever, she'd always just say so, and make it clear that she wasn't peeved that you asked or distressed to decline. It was very relaxing, and made me vow to get better at doing the same.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:13 PM
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ability to read other people / social cues

I envision this as a second axis. Askers who are bad at reading people (or don't care) come across as pushy assholes (the taker category above). Guessers who are bad at reading people come off as needy passive-aggressive types.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:16 PM
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I have a (very good) friend who is an extreme Asker. She is Ask Extreme Body Spray. The really bonus part is how her outrageous request is somehow really helpful/good/pleasing to YOU! Because she is really just thinking of YOU! Can you take a train down to your mother's house, borrow her car, pick me up at the airport, drop me at my apartment, and then take the car back to your mom's? That would be great, right?! Seeing your mom, maybe picking some things up at Costco? So while you are doing all of that for yourself, you can just grab me at Newark!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:18 PM
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279: Ha, yes. Meeting people who are good at this have led me to try to be better at it as well. I am *much* better than I used to be, but it is a project.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:20 PM
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In my experience the one good thing about Ayn Rand disciples is that they are so devoted to the Ask lifestyle that they never make you feel uncomfortable about asking them for something. No playing games, that is to say.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:23 PM
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Something I've just realized that I say to people when I ask for something is "No is a good answer." If I make a direct request, I give explicit permission for the person I'm asking to refuse it.

I think what's going on in my head, which sounds terribly presumptuous when I say it out loud, is that if I ask for something without that sort of qualification, "No" isn't an acceptable answer, and I am offended by it. In practice, this means that I don't pull out the direct request hardly ever, because I think of it as an imperative, and a refusal means that I'm going to be upset with the refuser.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:28 PM
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281: Hm. Thanks for this example. I think I'm in the purview of an extreme Asker lately, though I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms. Still, a manipulator, which, again, I hadn't quite realized before. So far I've been dealing with it by doing a lot of fending off, without actually blowing up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:28 PM
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The proper and correct way to handle requests is to answer the question "Can I ask you something?" with "You just did."

You see, then the person never gets to the request.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:33 PM
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285: I've found that there is a subset of pushy selfish people who respond quite well to being up at blown. Not that they like it, but they change their behavior appropriately. Of course this is based on a sample size of one, but I plan on further experiments in the near future.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:36 PM
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up at


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 2:40 PM
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And pushy selfish s/b agreeably scented.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 3:52 PM
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nōnne

introduces questions expecting the answer "yes"


num

1. introduces direct questions which expect the answer "no"
2. introduces indirect question and means whether


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 4:00 PM
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I'm guessing that wasn't too out of line, because I'm a Guesser like that. I think the regional differences in 277 is a good point; hearing about the level of guesswork involved in Southern ettiquette always sounds hellish to me, even though I'm a pretty unequivicably a Guesser on my own turf.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 4:00 PM
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290- The wisdom of antiquity.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 4:01 PM
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The wisdom of antiquity.

Antiquity doesn't have a lock on wisdom, does it?

Antiquity has a lock on wisdom, doesn't it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 4:04 PM
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169 is just "Larry David's World" isn't it?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:42 PM
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i liked Deborah Tannen's books too. i bought some more academic work similar, and it was not good at all.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 10:46 PM
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Can you take a train down to your mother's house, borrow her car, pick me up at the airport, drop me at my apartment, and then take the car back to your mom's? That would be great, right?! Seeing your mom, maybe picking some things up at Costco? So while you are doing all of that for yourself, you can just grab me at Newark!

Sounds like someone should be introduced to the wonders of the AirTrain to NJ Transit.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:05 PM
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Not to go off topic or anything, but those Holder quotes are very scary. The conservatives on the Court have already demonstrated that a 1966 precedent isn't, well, binding precedent, I guess, and some of them have made comments about their disagreement with Miranda. For an Obama appointee to openly discuss further chipping away at the rights of persons in police custody to know their rights, simply by merit of an officer invoking terrorism, is VERY SCARY, especially when combined with the increased surveillance powers of the government adopted by the Bush administration, which the "left wing" Obama administration has also basically adopted.

The blogosphere has worked itself into a frenzy over much less. Are we experiencing outrage fatigue, or something?


Posted by: Paulie | Link to this comment | 05-10-10 11:25 PM
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Don't know whether this falls into the "ask" or "guess" business, but I once asked a professor out to lunch. She wondered whether I was using the funds available for that purpose that the school provided. I didn't know about them, and I hadn't been counting on it.

I'd fully intended to pay, but when I offered, I was expecting her to say something like, "Are you sure?" to which I would have said, "I insist." Instead, she said "Okay" without a thank you (yes, she was doing me a favor by coming) and proceeded to order one of the more expensive items on the menu at the restaurant that she had picked out.

What kind of culture is Arkansas supposed to have?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 5:27 AM
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Well, they're Arkers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 6:07 AM
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299: Aren't we the Sassy one?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 6:22 AM
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Well, see, I'm terribly funny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 6:25 AM
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301: I Kan see that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 6:53 AM
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Yes, we are experiencing outrage fatigue.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 8:30 AM
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interestingly, chinese singaporeans often feel that there's untoward pressure when you offer something in the following way: would you like some tea? they feel like you're pressuring them to have tea in that situation, and it's kind of rude. they would rather say: do you want tea or not? which seems horrifyingly brusque to me, but they want the "not" to be explicitly on the table, so that both options are OK. then they can say: no, lah, I just had kopi c already. they need to provide a reason why they're saying no, even though it's fine that they be totally lying at that point.

it has taken me some time to get used to this mode of interaction, and I'm really not comfortable saying "or not?" so when I offer people drinks in the store (we have free beer! everyone should shop at my place!) I satisfy the constraints by offering them many different things: we have green tea, coke, beer, water (and let's say they are demurring this whole time) then I feel I can say "nothing? OK but just let me know if you want anything."

it's just like with the classic Singlish: "can or not?" for any type of possibility. "can pay by amex or not?" then it's fine to say "cannot." apparently this is chinese morphology overlaid on english words. having successfully mastered the particle "lah" (easy to do) and "leh" (slightly more challenging) I am now waiting for my chance to debut "lor."


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 8:59 AM
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cannot, lah=it's not possible, don't worry about it.
cannot, leh=sorry, but it's not possible.
cannot, lor. like that one=it's just not possible [with resignation]


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 9:03 AM
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296: She was essentially moving back to NYC from out of the country, so she was going to have a couple big suitcases and definitely be in need of a cab. But you know, suck it up and pay the $70. Or sweet talk someone into meeting you at baggage claim to help wrangle your bags onto the AirTrain, but, you know, really, take a cab.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 9:10 AM
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cannot, leh=sorry, but it's not possible.cannot, lor. like that one=it's just not possible [with resignation]

Is that like "Life is hard"?

[XEROX PARC] This phrase has two possible interpretations: (1) "While your suggestion may have some merit, I will behave as though I hadn't heard it." (2) "While your suggestion has obvious merit, equally obvious circumstances prevent it from being seriously considered." The charm of the phrase lies precisely in this subtle but important ambiguity.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 9:22 AM
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Seattle has workshops for everything, so they have workshops on how better participate in an orgy. I know someone who went to it, and she said one of the exercises was how to say "no", but nicely. Apparently each person took turns saying "no, thank you" to each other person.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 9:28 AM
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apparently this is chinese morphology overlaid on english words.

Yep.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05-11-10 2:40 PM
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Wait, how do you know? You've never been to China.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-12-10 6:31 AM
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As a sort of follow-up to 148, which no one ever responded to, even though it was interesting, I offer this even more interesting question:

I wonder how neatly this ask/guess divide applies not just to personal relationships, but to consumer interactions as well? Meaning, e.g.: are guessers more likely to hint around to the dry cleaner that they're disappointed that their suit was ruined, hoping the cleaner values your business and will offer to replace it for you, and feeling cheated if he doesn't (or even not say anything at all and just quietly take their business elsewhere), while askers are more likely to flatly demand reimbursement for the ruined suit? Or is that dependant on personality characteristics independent of the ask/guess divide? I'd bet they line up pretty closely.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-13-10 5:08 PM
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