Your coworker got a new apartment, and she’s spent all month telling everyone in the office how excited she is to move in. Then, on Friday afternoon, she corners you by the espresso machine to ask a favor: Can you help me move this weekend?
Wait. What? The forecast calls for rain, you have plans, and to be completely honest, it’s not like you’re best friends. Has your work friend crossed a line and asked you a completely inappropriate question? Your reaction to this situation depends entirely on whether you’re an Asker or a Guesser.
The concept of Askers and Guessers has floated around the internet for years. Interestingly, its origins are not from a psychology textbook, but from a 2007 message board comment by a user named Andrea Donderi.
“In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it’s OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get ‘no’ for an answer,” Donderi wrote in her post. “This is Ask Culture.” On the other hand, someone who has grown up with what she deemed as “Guess Culture” will “avoid putting a request into words unless you’re pretty sure the answer will be ‘yes.’” Donderi posited that these two very different ways of asking for a favor can create all sorts of misunderstandings in both personal and professional relationships.