Recently I read an article on 'ask' and 'guess' culture1, and it brought me a lot of clarity. It explains the reason behind many of the interpersonal conflicts that I faced during the past 10-20 years of my life. After reading the article, I feel that an atomic bomb was set off in my mind.
I identify myself as an 'asker'. However, I live in a city in Asia, where easily more than 80% of the people around me, including both of my parents, are 'guesser'. As a result, I find it hard to form meaningful interpersonal relationship, even with my parents. The reasons are as followed:
Often in my interpersonal relationship, I receive comments from the 'guessers' (usually indirectly such as through a mutual friend) that says I am insensitive, arrogant. I interpret these comments as telling me that the manner that I ask the 'guessers' is not ideal. Maybe I am too forceful or too impolite when I made my request. Hence, I react to these comments by changing the way I ask them to do something for me. Such as saying 'please' (which is very rare in our culture), or even to the extend of saying 'I beg that you...'. In short, I 'lowered' myself, so that I am not seen as authoritative. These do not help, but made things worse, and they are still resentful towards me.
After reading the article on 'ask' and 'guess' culture, I am aware that this is not a good approach, because I should not even ask them in the first place. If I ask, they find it hard to say no. If I ask it in a begging manner, it is even harder for them to say no, even if they are unwilling.
I am unwilling to change myself into a 'guesser'. At the same time, I am aware that it is impossible for me to change my society and turn the people around me into 'askers'. The only solution, therefore, is that I adapt to the 'guess' culture while keeping my personality as an 'asker'. Do you have any advice on how can I do that?
1 [from The Guardian] 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." (more to read here)