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Ask vs. Guess Culture Communication (RubyConf Portugal)

Katherine Wu
October 27, 2016

Ask vs. Guess Culture Communication (RubyConf Portugal)

Abstract:
Have you ever been told you’re “too direct,” or feel like you don’t understand what others want? Or on the other side, do you think others are often too confrontational? These are Ask vs Guess Culture differences. Ask folks believe it’s ok to ask anything, because it’s ok to say no, while Guess folks prioritize not imposing on others. It’s a culture clash that isn’t often recognized, yet causes quite a bit of tension and frustration. This talk will cover the nuances of these different communication styles, as well as strategies for bridging the gap. Gaining an understanding of these differences and learning specific tactics for a professional context will make you a drastically more effective communicator.

This talk was presented at RubyConf Portugal 2016, ~32 minutes: https://youtu.be/vuF4FogSt3Y
Blog post: http://kwugirl.blogspot.com/2015/05/ask-vs-guess-culture-communications.html

Katherine Wu

October 27, 2016
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  1. @kwugirl
    Ask vs. Guess Cultures
    KWu, an Ask Culture person
    Ruby Agent Software Engineer

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  2. @kwugirl
    strong
    brightly colored
    curious

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  3. @kwugirl
    strong
    brightly colored
    curious
    Bench press: 103lbs / 46.7kg
    Back squat: 185lbs / 83.9kg
    Deadlift: 225lbs / 102kg

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  4. @kwugirl
    strong
    brightly colored
    curious

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  5. @kwugirl
    strong
    brightly colored
    curious

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  6. @kwugirl
    strong
    brightly colored
    curious

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  7. @kwugirl
    Cat-lage…
    like a collage,
    but for cats….

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  8. @kwugirl

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  9. @kwugirl
    so many cats…

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  10. @kwugirl
    …just a huge cat-alogue…

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  11. @kwugirl

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  12. @kwugirl
    You

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  13. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie

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  14. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    Taylor

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  15. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    Taylor

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  16. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    Taylor
    Can Taylor
    stay with you?

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  17. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    ?
    Taylor

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  18. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    I’ll just tell
    them no.
    Taylor

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  19. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    or
    Taylor

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  20. @kwugirl
    You
    Jamie
    Ugh, this puts
    me in a difficult
    position.
    Taylor

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  21. @kwugirl
    “I’ll just tell them no.”
    “Ugh, this puts me
    in a difficult position.”
    Ask Culture Guess Culture

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  22. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations

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  23. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations
    overview of cultures

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  24. @kwugirl

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  25. @kwugirl
    it’s OK to ask for anything
    +
    you’re OK getting ‘no’
    for an answer
    ASK

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  26. @kwugirl
    avoid asking unless
    the answer will be yes
    GUESS

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  27. @kwugirl
    extend out delicate feelers
    GUESS

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  28. @kwugirl
    don’t have to explicitly ask
    GUESS

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  29. @kwugirl
    if you accept, are you imposing
    too much?
    GUESS

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  30. @kwugirl
    putting others in the position of
    having to say ‘no’ seems rude
    GUESS

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  31. @kwugirl
    ASK GUESS

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  32. @kwugirl
    ASK GUESS

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  33. @kwugirl
    ASK GUESS
    Northeast Pacific Northwest
    Midwest

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  34. @kwugirl
    ASK GUESS
    Northeast Pacific Northwest
    Midwest

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  35. @kwugirl
    one culture ≯ another culture

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  36. @kwugirl
    “Deal with Reality on Reality’s terms.”

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  37. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations
    a few examples

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  38. @kwugirl
    “The Seattle No”
    https://medium.com/lessons-learned/the-seattle-no-177091f864a4

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  39. @kwugirl
    Hey, I’m going to this party,
    do you want to come?

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  40. @kwugirl
    Hmm that sounds interesting,
    I’ll have to check.

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  41. @kwugirl
    or

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  42. @kwugirl
    Oh yeah, maybe…

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  43. @kwugirl
    Oh yeah, maybe…
    + don’t hear from them again about it

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  44. @kwugirl
    THIS MEANS NO.

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  45. @kwugirl
    THIS MEANS NO.
    (not obvious to all of us)

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  46. @kwugirl

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  47. @kwugirl
    “Hmm, I don’t have time to make lunch 

    for next week.”

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  48. @kwugirl
    “Hmm, I don’t have time to make lunch 

    for next week.”
    Dan hears

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  49. @kwugirl
    “Hmm, I don’t have time to make lunch 

    for next week.”
    “Could you make extra meals
    so I have lunch for the week?”
    Dan hears

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  50. @kwugirl
    “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”

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  51. @kwugirl
    “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”
    I think

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  52. @kwugirl
    “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”
    “That’s so weird, Dan’s planning to make
    an extra meal this weekend, but ok.”
    I think

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  53. @kwugirl
    “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”
    “That’s so weird, Dan’s planning to make
    an extra meal this weekend, but ok.”
    What I did not say: “Oh, you don’t have to do that.”
    I think

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  54. @kwugirl
    End Result

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  55. @kwugirl
    End Result
    “Why do we have
    so much food
    in the fridge?”

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  56. @kwugirl
    End Result
    “Why do we have
    so much food
    in the fridge?”
    “I’m such a good
    husband.”

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  57. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations
    pros/cons

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  58. @kwugirl
    Ask Culture

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  59. @kwugirl
    Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency

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  60. @kwugirl
    Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity

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  61. @kwugirl
    Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity
    Gets what you want

    (in the short-term)

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  62. @kwugirl
    Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity
    Gets what you want

    (in the short-term)
    More open conflict

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  63. @kwugirl
    Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity
    Gets what you want

    (in the short-term)
    More open conflict
    Can make people feel
    uncomfortable

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  64. @kwugirl
    Guess Culture

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  65. @kwugirl
    Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings

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  66. @kwugirl
    Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings
    More polite

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  67. @kwugirl
    Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings
    More polite
    Hard if you’re bad at 

    reading social cues

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  68. @kwugirl
    Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings
    More polite
    Hard if you’re bad at 

    reading social cues
    Can feel like no one is
    listening to you

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  69. @kwugirl
    proportion of requests granted
    requests granted
    explicit verbal
    requests

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  70. @kwugirl
    requests granted
    proportion of requests granted
    requests granted
    explicit verbal
    requests

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  71. @kwugirl
    requests granted
    explicit verbal
    requests 

    + implicit requests!
    proportion of requests granted
    requests granted
    explicit verbal
    requests

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  72. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations
    further considerations

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  73. @kwugirl

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  74. @kwugirl
    personality
    family
    __context__

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  75. @kwugirl
    company culture

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  76. @kwugirl
    team culture

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  77. @kwugirl
    personal experiences

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  78. @kwugirl
    women

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  79. @kwugirl
    women
    “abrasive”

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  80. @kwugirl
    women
    “abrasive”
    “timid”

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  81. @kwugirl
    ???

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  82. @kwugirl
    family

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  83. @kwugirl
    family
    work

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  84. @kwugirl
    how well you know someone
    ???????
    stranger BFF

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  85. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations
    strategies for handling

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  86. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Ask Culture…

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  87. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Ask Culture…
    Make a Guess Culture close friend

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  88. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Ask Culture…
    Make a Guess Culture close friend
    Listen more closely

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  89. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Ask Culture…
    Make a Guess Culture close friend
    Listen more closely
    Apologize if you realize >1 interpretation

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  90. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Guess Culture…

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  91. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Guess Culture…
    Remember that people might be 

    unaware of “the rules”

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  92. @kwugirl
    If you’re from Guess Culture…
    Remember that people might be 

    unaware of “the rules”
    Resist the urge to “soften” a “No”

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  93. @kwugirl
    litmus test
    overview of cultures
    a few examples
    pros/cons
    further considerations
    strategies for handling
    work situations
    work situations

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  94. @kwugirl
    work situations
    general things to consider
    useful phrasings
    example situations
    use your strengths

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  95. @kwugirl
    general things to consider
    useful phrasings
    example situations
    use your strengths
    work situations
    general things to consider

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  96. @kwugirl
    short-term vs. long-term

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  97. @kwugirl
    relationships

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  98. @kwugirl
    are you sure you know what
    other people are thinking?

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  99. @kwugirl
    don’t assume they…
    will react as you would
    are unhappy with you

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  100. @kwugirl
    general things to consider
    useful phrasings
    example situations
    use your strengths
    work situations
    useful phrasings

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  101. @kwugirl
    “Hey, I have a question,
    but it’s totally ok to say no.”

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  102. @kwugirl
    “Hey, I have a question,

    but it’s totally ok to say no.”

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  103. @kwugirl
    “Hey, I have a question, but
    it’s totally ok if you want to say no.”

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  104. @kwugirl
    “it’s ok if you’re busy…”
    “Hey, I have a question, but
    it’s totally ok if you want to say no.”

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  105. @kwugirl
    “it’s ok if you’re busy…”
    “I understand if you’re busy…”
    “Hey, I have a question, but
    it’s totally ok if you want to say no.”

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  106. @kwugirl
    “I have an observation, not
    a judgment—please tell me
    more! I’m curious.”

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  107. @kwugirl
    “Hey, remember when we talked
    about how I should be more
    assertive? Well, _____”

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  108. @kwugirl
    discuss communication styles

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  109. @kwugirl
    “Sometimes I have trouble
    speaking up, it would really
    help if…”

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  110. @kwugirl
    use this talk as an excuse!

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  111. @kwugirl
    “I went to this amazing
    talk at RubyConf Portugal…”

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  112. @kwugirl
    general things to consider
    useful phrasings
    example situations
    use your strengths
    work situations
    example situations

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  113. @kwugirl
    getting/giving help

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  114. @kwugirl

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  115. @kwugirl
    “I’m not sure I understand

    this feature.”

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  116. @kwugirl
    “I’m not sure I understand

    this feature.”
    (“Can someone help me?”)

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  117. @kwugirl
    don’t assume silence == ok

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  118. @kwugirl
    “Do you have any
    questions for me?”

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  119. @kwugirl
    “What questions do you
    have for me?”

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  120. @kwugirl
    “We have a few options that
    work, A/B/C. Let me know!”

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  121. @kwugirl
    Ask Manager & Guess Report

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  122. @kwugirl
    Ask Manager & Guess Report
    positive reinforcement for saying “no”

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  123. @kwugirl
    Ask Manager & Guess Report
    positive reinforcement for saying “no”
    be extremely wary of giving illusion of choice

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  124. @kwugirl
    Ask Manager & Guess Report
    positive reinforcement for saying “no”
    be extremely wary of giving illusion of choice
    don’t default processes to people needing to ask

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  125. @kwugirl
    Ask Manager & Guess Report
    positive reinforcement for saying “no”
    be extremely wary of giving illusion of choice
    don’t default processes to people needing to ask
    PAY ATTENTION

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  126. @kwugirl
    general things to consider
    useful phrasings
    example situations
    use your strengths
    work situations
    use your strengths

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  127. @kwugirl
    meetings

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  128. @kwugirl
    be thoughtful, help each other

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  129. @kwugirl
    if you have any questions…

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  130. @kwugirl
    just ask. ;)

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  131. @kwugirl
    just ask. ;)

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  132. @kwugirl
    just ask. ;)

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  133. @kwugirl
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