May 23, 2010
Wow! We had a great workshop on Friday. Thanks to everyone who came. If you couldn't fit it in, we'll see you next time!
I often tell my students that there are two kind of people in the world: those who put people into two categories and those who don't.
Lately, I have wondered about a different demarcation: people who ask for favors and are willing to hear either "yes" or "no," and those who will only ask if they are relatively sure the answer is "yes."
People in the first category could ask almost anything: Will you give me $100? Can I stay at your house for six weeks while my landlord repaints my apartment? Will you dog-sit my six poodles? They ask without remorse and are perfectly willing to hear "no" without hard feelings.
People in the second category don't want to put someone in the position of saying "no" so they go to great lengths to figure out what they think the answer will be before ever asking. If they think the answer is no, they won't ask.
That these two categories of people exist (I think they do, but you may or may not agree) is not a problem per se, especially when "askers" are dealing with "askers" and "guessers" are dealing with "guessers." Trouble can arise, however, when the two groups interact.
I think a "guesser" finds herself in agony if an "asker" asks too big a favor. The "guesser" probably thinks the "asker" is expecting a "yes" and will be sorely disappointed with "no" (thinking to herself, they wouldn't have asked if they didn't believe the answer would be "yes"). She might also think the "asker" is rude for asking, while all the "asker" wants is to hear "no" and move on. An "asker" might not read the signals of a "guesser" trying to discern the answer in advance without having to ask.
Why do I know about this? As a child, Davis was an asker. Erin was a guesser.