Are You an Asker or a Guesser?
Are you stressed out by all the requests you get?
No matter what you do for a living, if you’re like most of us, the demand for your help and services far outweighs your resources.
And that means you need to say “no” a lot.
It takes courage to say “no” – it makes most of us sweat.
And we may find that we feel some anger, resentment, or annoyance towards the people who made the requests…because they put us through the misery of needing to set limits.
For example, if you got a call from a client asking if you can squeeze their dog in for a last minute appointment that day, you might feel annoyed that they’re even asking.
Don’t they know that I don’t have the time for that? That I’m already stretched to my limits?
Maybe you wind up saying “yes” and then you’re overwhelmed.
Or maybe you do muster up the courage to say “no”, but then you’re upset that their request put you through the torture of turning them down.
No matter what your answer, you feel stressed!
Here’s where it helps to understand that there are two different styles of making requests.
Andrea Donderi has a theory that we’re all raised in one of two cultures: Asking and Guessing.
In Ask culture, people grow up believing they can ask for anything – a favor, a raise, a last minute appointment, – fully realizing the answer may be no.
In Guess culture, people grow up believing that they should only ask for something if they’re pretty sure the answer will be yes.
Which one do you think you are?
Askers put stuff out there and wait to hear your decision. Can you watch my dog this weekend, so I can go on a last minute trip? Can you squeeze my cat in for a quick exam? Can you fit any more carriers on that transport?
Askers don’t mind if you say “no” – they’re just gathering info about what’s possible.
But when an Asker meets a Guesser, things get stressful.
Askers expect you can and will say “no”, if it doesn’t work for you.
But Guessers have a hard time believing that the Asker really feels this way.
If you’re a Guesser, you hear the request as an expectation.
They wouldn’t have asked, unless they expected I would say yes.
That’s why Askers can come off as rude or presumptuous to people who are Guessers.
Remember that pet owner who called for a last minute appointment?
They might be rude and inconsiderate OR they’re just an Asker, who expects you might decline.
They’re just giving it a shot by asking.
The problem is that Guessers are assuming everyone has the same mindset about asking – that no one would ask unless they expect the other person to say “yes”.
This mindset is based on a false assumption.
And this assumption creates a lot of unnecessary resentment and additional anxiety when we’re saying “no” to any request.
So what do we do about it?
If you’re an Asker, be clear about your expectations when you’re making the request: let the other person know it’s okay to say NO. Give them an out.
Explain that you understand your request may not be something they can accommodate and you’re open to other options or ideas.
If you’re a Guesser,stop assuming everyone expects you to say yes. A LOT of the requests you get are from Askers who expect that you might decline.
Experiment with assuming that at least half of the requests you’re getting are from people who know it’s a long shot. Drop the baggage of imagined expectations. It makes saying “no” a lot easier.
If your Guesser, try asking for more. When we only ask for what we want and need if we’re sure the answer will be yes, we’re shortchanging ourselves.
We can’t possible know what someone’s answer will actually be, unless we ask. Don’t assume! You’re cheating yourself out of a lot of help (and potentially wonderful experiences) because you guessed incorrectly.
I know that this doesn’t address the guilt, sadness, and stress of knowing that an animal is suffering or might die because you’re setting limits, but it is one layer of your stress that you can potentially let go of.
Let's Stay Connected.
Sign up for ideas, updates, and your free copy of The ABCs of Self Care Workbook!
I heart boundaries and will never sell your email address. Unsubscribe at any time.