Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Are you an Asker or a Guesser?
By Oliver Burkeman
The advice of etiquette experts on dealing with unwanted invitations, or overly demanding requests for favours, has always been the same: just say no. That may have been a useless mantra in the war on drugs, but in the war on relatives who want to stay for a fortnight, or colleagues trying to get you to do their work, the manners guru Emily Post's formulation – "I'm afraid that won't be possible" – remains the gold standard. Excuses merely invite negotiation. The comic retort has its place (Peter Cook: "Oh dear, I find I'm watching television that night"), and I'm fond of the tautological non-explanation ("I can't, because I'm unable to"). But these are variations on a theme: the best way to say no is to say no. Then shut up.
This is a lesson we're unable to learn, however, judging by the scores of books promising to help us. The Power Of A Positive No, How To Say No Without Feeling Guilty, The Book Of No... Publishers, certainly, seem unable to refuse. (Two recent books addressing the topic are Marshall Goldsmith's Mojo, and Womenomics, by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.) This is the "disease to please" – a phrase that doesn't make grammatical sense, but rhymes, giving it instant pop-psychology cachet. There are certainly profound issues here, of self-esteem, guilt etcetera. But it's also worth considering whether part of the problem doesn't originate in a simple misunderstanding between two types of people: Askers and Guessers.
This terminology comes from a brilliant web posting by Andrea Donderi that's achieved minor cult status online. We are raised, the theory runs, in one of two cultures. In Ask culture, people grow up believing they can ask for anything – a favour, a pay rise– fully realising the answer may be no. In Guess culture, by contrast, you avoid "putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure the answer will be yes… A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won't have to make the request directly; you'll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept."
Neither's "wrong", but when an Asker meets a Guesser, unpleasantness results. An Asker won't think it's rude to request two weeks in your spare room, but a Guess culture person will hear it as presumptuous and resent the agony involved in saying no. Your boss, asking for a project to be finished early, may be an overdemanding boor – or just an Asker, who's assuming you might decline. If you're a Guesser, you'll hear it as an expectation. This is a spectrum, not a dichotomy, and it explains cross-cultural awkwardnesses, too: Brits and Americans get discombobulated doing business in Japan, because it's a Guess culture, yet experience Russians as rude, because they're diehard Askers.
Self-help seeks to make us all Askers, training us to both ask and refuse with relish; the mediation expert William Ury recommends memorising "anchor phrases" such as "that doesn't work for me". But Guessers can take solace in logic: in many social situations (though perhaps not at work) the very fact that you're receiving an anxiety-inducing request is proof the person asking is an Asker. He or she is half-expecting you'll say no, and has no inkling of the torture you're experiencing. So say no, and see what happens. Nothing will.
Do you know which one I am? :)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Isn't it weird how small a room looks with no furniture in it ... it should be the other way around.
It's been over 6 months now and I'm really liking not living out of a suitcase and thinking I'm going to have to move again soon ... yet I came from a family that never lived in one place for more than 5 years, so I don't really get too attached to a place, so I feel kinda bad when people ask me if I'm LOOOOOVING having my own place and I say, "Yeah, it's cool." I don't think I show the enthusiasm that most people expect. It's great, but it is what it is. A home ... for now. :)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I know it's been FOREVER since I last posted, but buying a condo and moving in is a LOT of work!!! Fun work, but work none the less that keeps me away from blogging.
I've been toying with saying goodbye to my blog for good, but I think I'll give it a little more thought. If I do decide to continue, I do have to go private (explanation will come shortly), so if you want to be on my "safe" list, please send me a message with your email address and I'll add you to the list ... otherwise, if you're a lurker who doesn't want to "out" themselves, thank you for stopping by and peeking in on my life every once in awhile. It was a pleasure to be a small part of your day every so often. :)
Monday, April 12, 2010
What can I say
About 50 looooong years
There have been many good times
And yes, a few tears
It started at a roller rink
Out with some friends
Laughing and skating
But do you know how that night ends?
When they went to go home
Into the back seat they did climb
But when it came my Mom’s turn
Dad had thought ahead of time
“I’ll let the other girls get in first
But when Hilda goes to get in
I’ll throw the seat back
And let out a grin
She’ll have to sit right next to me
And we can talk all the way back to the farm
Oh, I do hope she likes me
And appreciates my charm”
Well, it obviously worked
And in South Abby church they did wed
They had 2 years of freedom
Before in moved a baby’s bed
Carolyn was the first
And Donnie was soon after
Their house was quickly filled
With the sound of children’s laughter
We stop to give pause
To the brother I never met
He is always in our hearts
We will never forget
Jodi came next
And I was the last
With my fiery red headed spirit
I was bound to be a blast!
We all had to adapt
Because we moved MANY times
I believe the count is at 22 in their 50 years
Now that’s gotta be a crime
But they like it, I’m not complaining
It’s obviously their decision
As long as my Dad gets to take
His big screen television
From BC to Manitoba
Then back to BC we did go
Now they’ve moved on to Alberta
Although for the Canucks Dad’s heart does still glow
I enjoyed our time in Manitoba
Living on all that land
Except during chore time
When I had to lend a hand
We had pigs to feed and grain to get in
And the cows needed hay
But it really was a great life
At the end of the day
I even got to attend
The same elementary school as my Dad
Not many kids can say that
And for that, I am glad
When we moved back to BC
Dad took up again in construction and Mom at the church
But Mom was only part time
So us girls were never in the lurch
She was always home to greet us
And to prepare a great meal
I know I didn’t fully appreciate it
But it really is a big deal
And Dad always worked so hard
To provide for his brood
To make us all happy
And never come unglued
We took many vacations
With the 5th wheel trailer we did go
Yellowstone, Disneyland and 100 mile house
Were all a stones throw
When you could pack up your trailer
And head down the road
With your kids and your dog
It was never a heavy load
In more recent years my parents have ventured
A little farther on the globe
New Zealand, Malaysia, the Panama Canal
Are new places they did probe
There are too many memories
To recall in this short rhyme
But I want them to know
As my parents, they are sublime
We honour them today
On this 50th year
So please raise your glasses
As we give them a cheer
Saturday, April 10, 2010
We ate at Whi.te Sp.ot inside GM Place and then we went to find our seats. My Dad went to the bathroom first and he was gone so long that I thought maybe he'd gotten lost. The players came out to do their warm up and I waited ... and waited ...
Thanks for hanging out with me, Dad. If you moved here we could do a lot more things like this together. ;)
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Looking across False Creek at Olympic Village. Remember seeing this flag on the news and in the newspapers?
The flame isn't even snuffed out in Vancou.ver and the countdown begins to the next Olympics already.
I know this little guy was happy ... I have no idea who he is, but he was cute so he deserved a picture.
Socc.i in 2014, anyone? :)