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I came across a really concise explanation of a common communication breakdown that directly affects business.  I got it third or fourth hand so thanks to "Tangerine" for sharing your idea.

"In some families , you grow up with the expectation that it's OK to ask for anything at all, but you've got to realize that you might get a no for an answer.  This is the Ask Culture.

In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure that the answer will be yes.  Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations.  A key skill is putting out delicate feelers.  If you do this with enough subtlety, you won't even 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.

If you're a Guess person, then unwelcome requests from an Ask person can seem presumptuous and out of line.  You're more likely to feel angry, uncomfortable, and manipulated.

If you're an Ask person, Guess behavior can seem inconsistent and rife with passive aggression."

The original post goes on in greater detail, but these are the central points.

Speaking for myself, I was raised in the Guess Culture.  Any sort of negotiation, promotion, or coordination was as frustrating as it was time-consuming.  There were a lot of default assumptions that made anything involving sales, settling disputes, or advertising very unappealing.  The worst offenders were deemed "Cocky", or "Pushy".   With the benefit of life experience, I can see why published prices, fixed pay scales, and "no-haggle" policies were to prolific in areas where guess culture was dominant.  I recall how my on the job training emphasized the importance of customer complaints.  They taught that only one in ten customers would actually communicate their issue, the other nine, would simply shop somewhere else.  They also taught "aggressive hospitality" as a shoplifting countermeasure.  Making eye contact and assertively asking if you could assist a suspected shoplifter was supposed to make the thief aware that they were noticed, hopefully causing them to abandon their criminal acts and leave.

Sometime near adulthood I transitioned to Ask culture because I realized that outcomes mattered more than stated intentions.  People were paying me to solve fairly simple problems for them, not to guess at who might voluntarily solve my problem for me, if only they came to know about it in the just-right way.

That being said, I've retained the Guess culture skill set for situations where greater diplomacy is required.  

I see a lot of situations where the utility of one culture is used by the other.  There are plenty of  Ask Culture people who rely upon "Plausible deniability" and "My hands are tied" tactics when it's inconvenient to acknowledge a straightforward request.  One of the more devious aspects of Guess culture is that it operates on the assumption that there is a correct guess.  A vague, but artfully delivered request in that context can be so loaded with potential meaning that it presents a double-bind to the recipient.  This practice is likely where the expression "It's better to ask forgiveness than permission" came from.  At least in that scenario, you achieved something in exchange for your grief.

Putting all of this into practical application, I think the most consistently successful approach to general/obvious requests is to clearly communicating your respect to the recipients position, and your desire to honor their decision without malice,  before asking clearly and concisely.

Guess people will probably still think you're rude, but the more sincerely helpful among them will offer some cultural guidance on how they'd like to hear future requests.  Ask people may be initially cautious about the formality, but they generally appreciate the sentiment.

Hopefully this helps you in your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ahhh, another example of the either or, black white, etc. culture. Like most culture that tout this or that is right or best, for example, Nature vs. Nurture. Both sides can argue and often well that their opinion is obviously the better. I got into a short but interesting debate with Dr. Jack Horner during a seminar he presented regarding the T Rex skeleton Sue. His position is that T Rex was a scavenger in rather strong opposition to De. Robert Baker's evidence and position that T Rex was the Road Runner from hell. Both have painted themselves in their own corner and have good evidence.

I don't see it. I don't know of a living apex land predator that won't scavenge rather than hunt if opportunity is presented. It's safer and has a lower energy budget to run lesser carnivores off than it is to make a kill. 

Questions or guesses? Nah, it's a balance that serves best. Basing questions on guesses makes for better questions and use of the answers as questions and answers fertilizes the fields that grow guesses.

Of course that's just my take on the thing.

Frosty The Lucky.

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4 hours ago, Frosty said:

I don't know of a living apex land predator that won't scavenge rather than hunt if opportunity is presented. It's safer and has a lower energy budget to run lesser carnivores off than it is to make a kill. 

I saw a bald eagle steal a fish from an osprey this afternoon. It seems that I see this behavior occur at least every couple of months or so. In fact, I don't know that I have personally witnessed a bald eagle obtain food in any other way. If I didn't have other sources, I would say that our national bird is exclusively a fish thief! 

How much of this type of comparison is based on the biases of the observer? I was unfamiliar with this sort of framing, but I suppose that I could talk myself into seeing "guess culture" in some people I know. It seems to me that anyone working purely in that paradigm could only have effective relationships with a very small and unchanging circle. How does the type persist in a world that is becoming much more interconnected? 

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Yeah, the bald eagle is mostly a scavenger, but they're not above theft. Those beautiful shots of them swooping in and flying away with a fish aren't their norm. I've had to shoo them away from spawned out salmon carcasses on a stream to do some fishing. You can't actually shoo them, flap your arm or shout but you can gently disturb them enough to move if you're careful. Actually shooing a baldy could land you in jail on a fed offense. 

Deb was letting new goat kids out in the yard for the first time when she saw a shadow pass over. She looked up to see a pair of bald eagles circling the babies. She started rounding them up when the goshawk pair that nested on the back of our property made an appearance. They god Deb's attention with the shriek as they stooped on the eagles. It was a thorough avian butt kicking and the eagles beat pinions due north with the pair of Goshawks encouragement. 

I'm thinking guess culture across the internet is just casting your nets on broader waters. Just like asking. You don't need to make friends or even close acquaintances, the web is anonymity friendly.

Frosty The Lucky.

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That makes more sense. I was thinking that one would have to know the guessing "rules" of the others to guess correctly, but I hadn't considered guessing into the aether "fishing" for one random person accepting of the "guess" out of many hearers. 

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Read This First does a good job of telling new folks about the local culture so: Ask, Guess, TELL?

My daughter, (Now Dr Powers the Veterinarian)  went through a stage when she just wouldn't ask for what she wanted.  One hot summer day she discovered we had some coca cola in the fridge---unusual in our house.  So she comes up to me and says she's thirsty, so I get her a glass of water.  No she wanted something cold, something in the fridge. So I got her a glass of pickle juice...Ask and ye shall receive; hint around and you may end up with pickle juice.

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I see we deal with the "make you guess" culture in a similar way Thomas. It's a culture I learned to dislike as a teenager, you just couldn't get one of the girls to be straight, they made you guess at everything. Too manipulative for my taste, and no, I didn't do much dating in jr. high and high school. 

On the other hand I never forced myself on a girl. There are dangerous potential unintended consequences to the "make them guess" approach to manipulation culture. 

I, unfortunately, have never been very self assertive so missed out on the cookie too often. Not blaming anyone but me but. . . <sigh>

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty,  you've hit upon many of the features of Guess Culture that caused me to shift towards Ask Culture.

When I was a teenager, I noticed that virtually all romantic comedy stories involved a common plot device.  There would come points where one party has the opportunity to answer honestly to get what they want.  That party never answers honestly until "it's too late", then they make a dramatic confession.

I suspect that guess culture comes from courtly manners and etiquette rules like chivalry which prescribed the behaviors of both parties in an exchange such that you could ask a question, get an answer, and all sides would retain their dignity.

I wonder if "Ask Culture" is a counter move against human nature's desire to game the social rules with evasive answers?

 

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If I recall correctly from my anthropology studies, one often finds aspects of guess culture in Asian societies where saving face is of great importance. In such societies, getting an outright "No" in response to a request is a great loss of face, so the person asking will present their request indirectly as much as possible. At the same time, the person being asked doesn't want to cause the petitioner to lose face, so they will couch a negative response indirectly as well, such as "That would be extremely difficult" or "This might not be the best time for that." Another respectful way to say "No" is to say "Yes" while looking down or away; the non-verbal motion conveys the negative meaning with the disrespectful use of "No".

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Okay, let's assume for the purposes of discussion the "guess" culture exists where there are rigid rules for at least one type of behavior. Is it actually guesswork to determine a proper action or response when there are rigid rules? Eg. the courtly manners and etiquette of medieval European royal society. Or say formal Japanese negotiation. 

Okay, I won't try and come up with an example they were all laughably crummy and not a typical Frosty joke laughable. B A D laughable. 

Motivation for the specific rules of the dance depends on many factors. Face as suggested or perhaps competition for status.

Hmmm?

Frosty The Lucky.

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3 hours ago, JHCC said:

Now I'm wondering if there's any overlap between guilt cultures and shame cultures.

Your comment reminds me of an episode of "Parks and Recreation" where the laughingstock character Jerry was retiring.  Tom was worried that he would become the new laughingstock so he tried to ridicule Andy.  Andy laughed at the ridicule completely unperturbed.  Donna commented to Tom that his gambit would fail because "Andy is a big dumb animal with no shame".  To speak to your point, I think social contracts are enforced to the extent that the "pack" holds individuals accountable.  This is likely why my dog looks ashamed when I scold him, but my neighbor's cat is defiant.

Frosty,

I think context affects the answer to your question.  When both parties are guess culture, there is no cultural misunderstanding, so the accuracy of the guessing depends entirely on the social skills of the parties involved.  As JHCC posted above, there are often "coded" messages in this culture that allow dignity in the overall interaction, regardless of whether a given party is satisfied by the outcome.

I think the whole reason this matters is when Ask and Guess cultures interact because they are uniquely oriented to unintentionally offend one another.  In my experience, most people in this situation have no idea that the other culture exists, so they're unusually certain that their opponent is hostile.

 

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Should have been more clear: I'm wondering what (if any) overlap there is between the Ask/Guess dichotomy and the Guilt/Shame dichotomy. To expand, guilt cultures are more concerned with the internal negative consequences of failure/bad behavior/etc (with positive consequences being similarly internal, where doing right is its own reward and people tend to be more modest about their accomplishments), while shame cultures are concerned with the external consequences, such as being ashamed in the eyes of society or losing position because one's shame has been seen (and where people are more likely to be boastful of their accomplishments).

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JHCC,

I believe culture is learned, so it seems to me that people wouldn't internalize guilt unless they were instructed (shamed) into feeling that way by the herd.   From there, I think it's largely personal preference as to whether consequences are internal or public.  Even in situations where the dominant doctrine is established as either internal or public, people will comply on their own terms.  

 

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Context effects everything, eg. You didn't leave it in the oven long enough. Can mean almost anything without knowing the context which will also determine if it's a direct answer or a response to a guess. 

I'm thinking ask/guess isn't a difference in information exchange (kind) it's a difference in language. So a difference in culture is given, I mean what is context but knowing what it means and fits? "Draw it out and fold it a few times."  Wish to guess what I'm talking about? If you apply the context defined by the statement's location, guessing, "pattern welding" is reasonable. Could be: taffy, croissants, bread, prepping clay for the wheel, etc.  We talk cooking too.

John: When I read your, guilt/shame, statement the first thing I thought of, is it's a matter of degree not kind, rather than a dichotomy. Then your next post added the context I needed. Guilt is an internal emotion and shame is a manipulative tool to enforce rules or position. Makes sense. 

Rockstar:  I don't know, some guilt is learned some is instinctive, it's not a "nature" OR "nurture" issue. You also seem to be applying degree to guilt / shame. Whether consequences are private or public is a matter of degree if the cause is revealed. Get away with murder it's internalized, get caught it's severe enough infraction it'll be public. In some cases, degree is context.

Frosty The Lucky.

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