Ask vs Guess Culture: How it Impacts Communication

In leadership, communication is a hot topic… What works best, what is the preferred method, what your own style is, how it impacts others, etc. A few years ago, Ask vs Guess came into the limelight. I am bringing it up again as it is an important part of understanding effective communication.

I’ll start by explaining the two areas.

Ask culture focuses on the idea that asking for anything is socially acceptable and even encouraged (even if the answer may be a no). Inappropriate has no meaning here as there is no harm in asking.

Guess culture believes it is harmful to ask, especially if asking at the wrong time. This culture focuses on appropriateness of the request and the timing of that request. This culture does all they can to be sure the answer will be yes before they even ask.

Do you know where you fall in those areas? Here are a few questions that can direct you:

  • Do you feel comfortable asking friends/family for anything?
  • Do you feel comfortable asking for something even if the answer may very well be no?
  • Do you think it’s okay to make requests at work?
  • Do you believe that there is no harm in simply asking?

There is no right or wrong to these, it is simply a way to see where you sit in the Ask vs Guess culture. If you mostly answered yes, you are an Asker. If you mostly answered no, you are a Guesser. If you’re like me, you’re somewhere in between. LOL!

Not understanding the difference between Ask vs Guess can (and typically will) create tensions. Even knowing what I know, I can be taken by surprise from askers. Normally, I don’t see the harm in at least asking. I have been taken by surprise on the timing of a question: Asking me if my husband has life insurance at the wedding reception.

Askers can get upset when someone doesn’t ask them a question anytime, anywhere. Guessers can get upset just by being asked. Still doesn’t not make one better than the other. Both are simply as is. Most often, we are raised a certain way which sticks with us into adulthood on an unconscious level.

Minimizing conflict between these two styles can be achieved by being aware of your own style. This helps to minimize assumptions being made when someone asks you something (do you know what assume means?). If you are a Guesser, you could ask for more clarification of the request and leave judgement out of the picture. Askers could be more aware of the context and situation when they ask.

Understanding in communication builds relationships, awareness, and mindfulness.

Want to learn more about your personal communication style and how to enhance communication effectiveness? Contact me today!