Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Are You an "Asker" or a "Guesser"??

How you derive your information will determine your future in everything you do!



Courtesy of’s Happen Magazine

Just when you thought you had the dating dance nailed, and you assumed you knew the date traits that resonate for you, now there’s an ADDITIONAL factor to ponder. How comfortable are you in deriving key information from your honey? Interestingly, your answer will depend on whether you were brought up in an Ask Culture or a Guess Culture.

Andrea Donderiand raised this issue on her blog, and it was further gauged by Oliver Burkeman in UK paper, The Guardian. Getting to know someone you’re dating is vital, but if you’re uncomfortable asking questions, you are left to do an archeological dig and make assumptions. Everyone knows where hit-or-miss assumptions can lead. So, two likely lovers from the separate cultures (Ask vs. Guess) could face a real communication chasm. “Something else to consider?” you moan. I'm sorry!

In Ask families, requesting what you want is encouraged, even though you might not get it. But Guess families raise kids to avoid requesting things altogether. However, if a Guesser feels his network will be supportive, he still won’t ask, but he might drop hints, albeit with delicate feelers. (Just reporting this makes my own Ask upbringing want to scream, “Damn, just blurt out what you want already!”) Guessers could get their needs fulfilled, but the person giving might be somewhat begrudging about it. So, the Guesser would need to judge whether he wants to accept an insincere offer. What a convoluted web! Don’t you think deducing information from guesswork is too shaky a foundation upon which to build your love? Yet, Guessers interpret requests from Askers as presumptuous and rude. And Guessers also get angry if they feel pressured or manipulated to respond.

So if you ask Guesser Charlie what his highest level of education is, he may defensively respond, “Are you writing a book?” The Asker will probably deem Charlie to be passive aggressive. Meanwhile, Askers are angered by folks who won’t respond openly to clear questions. If Guesser Pam wants to know how old Charlie is, but won’t directly ask, she may indirectly probe with, “I graduated from college in 1984…” then pause, hoping he’ll volunteer his own information. Charlie, who can’t read minds, may not give Pam the answer she really wants. This leaves Pam not only uninformed, but also frustrated by this poor interchange with her date.

Called in to revitalize a company’s productivity and morale, I conducted a motivational workshop for corporate managers who had become lackadaisical. The proverbial 12 angry men sat around their conference table and used our opening interactions to voice their rage at their manager. They were furious they had not gotten promotions or raises in a long time. I asked, “Does your manager know what you want?” They replied, “He should know; he’s the boss!” “I don’t think so,” I said. “While bosses may seem bigger from below, employees must still present their goals and concerns to them clearly.” The group of men grew fidgety. Obviously, this corporate culture was Guess-based, and it clearly discouraged workers from trespassing into Ask territory. As a result, their sickly bottom line was accompanied by rage and poor productivity.

Few people can know each other’s nuances so well that they never have to ask questions. As uncomfortable as it might be for some, most people must at least occasionally tread on Ask terrain. Ironically, a friend just posted this on my Facebook page: “You create your opportunities by asking for them.” So, Guessers, are you willing to venture beyond your comfort zone?

Angie was terrified of joining an online dating site because, after her divorce, she dated someone she described as “a real psychopath.” Angie was a classic Guesser. Instead of trying to get to know the guys she met, she automatically guessed they were suitable for her — until she was proven wrong. Singles like Angie who are unwilling to ask vital questions of their dates to assess compatibility will probably always strike out.

Brian’s longtime girlfriend of two years suddenly bolted after he asked her to marry him. Had he used the Guess approach and kept the relationship undefined, they might still be together. I have treated myriad clients who think they’d rather keep on keeping on than make waves, regardless of the state of their relationships. When one partner does finally ask for something that has long gone unaddressed, there can be a messy showdown. Obviously, the emotional payoff in guessing eliminates confrontation, but the indefinite wait might provide a disappointing result when the matter does come to a head. Wouldn’t you want to know your destiny sooner rather than later?

George found a “great girl” online with whom he clicked. She emailed him back in 10 minutes. He sent another email, but did not hear from her again for a few days. Impatient, he emailed her another time, now directly asking whether she was interested. She replied that she was, but that she was preoccupied with some issues at home. She said she’d contact him when she unraveled her problems. George waited four more days before sending yet another email. Despite the fact that he gave her his cell number, he received no response. George, as you can probably tell, was an asker — but he asked too much, too soon. When the pressure is on to provide a timely answer, some people vanish. Maybe George’s online girl had a problem at home, maybe she didn’t. George will probably never find out.

What have we gleaned from the differences between Askers and Guessers? If you merely guess about a love prospect, you will be left with more questions. If you ask directly (but not as frequently as George did), you may learn that your date: a) is a Guesser and shuts down when being asked questions — so tread gently; or, b) dislikes being asked anything personal — so proceed slowly; or, c) answers you willingly in the spirit of establishing a sense of openness — so get busy enjoying some terrific communication with an Asker. Which type do you prefer? Now, you see that your answer depends on how you were raised!

While you can’t change your upbringing, you can question whether it supports your dating future or saps it. Whatever works for you, keep doing. But now that you know these basic communication differences, if you happen to discover a trait of yours that’s standing in the way of love — change it. As my Gilda-Gram suggests, “Encourage your growth to direct your future instead of permitting your past to short-change your growth.”


GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!

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