Ask vs. Guess Culture Communication (self.conference)

Ask vs. Guess Culture Communication (self.conference)

Longform version of my Ask vs. Guess Culture lightning talk.

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 self.conference 2015 in Detroit.
Blog post: http://kwugirl.blogspot.com/2015/05/ask-vs-guess-culture-communications.html

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Katherine Wu

May 29, 2015
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Transcript

  1. @kwugirl Ask vs. Guess Cultures KWu, an Ask Culture person

    Software engineer
  2. @kwugirl

  3. @kwugirl You

  4. @kwugirl You Jamie

  5. @kwugirl You Jamie Taylor

  6. @kwugirl You Jamie Taylor

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

  8. @kwugirl You Jamie ? Taylor

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

  10. @kwugirl You Jamie or Taylor

  11. @kwugirl You Jamie Ugh, this puts ! me in a

    difficult position. Taylor
  12. @kwugirl “I’ll just tell them no.” “Ugh, this puts me

    in a difficult position.” Ask Culture Guess Culture
  13. @kwugirl litmus test overview of cultures a few examples pros/cons

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

    further considerations strategies for handling work situations ! overview of cultures! ! ! ! !
  15. @kwugirl

  16. @kwugirl it’s OK to ask for anything + you’re OK

    getting ‘no’ for an answer ASK
  17. @kwugirl avoid asking unless the answer will be yes GUESS

  18. @kwugirl extend out delicate feelers GUESS

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

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

  21. @kwugirl putting others in the position of having to say

    ‘no’ seems rude GUESS
  22. @kwugirl ASK GUESS

  23. @kwugirl ASK GUESS

  24. @kwugirl ASK GUESS Northeast Pacific Northwest Midwest

  25. @kwugirl ASK GUESS Northeast Pacific Northwest Midwest

  26. @kwugirl one culture ≯ another culture

  27. @kwugirl litmus test overview of cultures a few examples pros/cons

    further considerations strategies for handling work situations ! ! a few examples! ! ! !
  28. @kwugirl “The Seattle No” https://medium.com/lessons-learned/the-seattle-no-177091f864a4

  29. @kwugirl Hey, I’m going to this party, do you want

    to come?
  30. @kwugirl Hmm that sounds interesting, I’ll have to check.

  31. @kwugirl or

  32. @kwugirl Oh yeah, maybe…

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

    about it
  34. @kwugirl THIS MEANS NO.

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

  36. @kwugirl

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


    for next week.”
  38. @kwugirl “Hmm, I don’t have time to make lunch 


    for next week.” Dan hears
  39. @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
  40. @kwugirl “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”

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

    think
  42. @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
  43. @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
  44. @kwugirl what we’ve got here… ! ! ! is a

    FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
  45. @kwugirl End Result Me Dan

  46. @kwugirl End Result Me “Why do we have so much

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

    food in the fridge?” Dan “I’m such a good husband.”
  48. @kwugirl litmus test overview of cultures a few examples pros/cons

    further considerations strategies for handling work situations ! ! ! pros/cons! ! !
  49. @kwugirl Ask Culture

  50. @kwugirl Ask Culture Prioritizes efficiency

  51. @kwugirl Ask Culture Prioritizes efficiency No ambiguity

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

    want
 (in the short-term)
  53. @kwugirl Ask Culture Prioritizes efficiency No ambiguity Gets what you

    want
 (in the short-term) More open conflict
  54. @kwugirl Ask Culture Prioritizes efficiency No ambiguity Gets what you

    want
 (in the short-term) More open conflict Can make people feel uncomfortable
  55. @kwugirl Guess Culture

  56. @kwugirl Guess Culture Prioritizes not 
 hurting feelings

  57. @kwugirl Guess Culture Prioritizes not 
 hurting feelings More polite

  58. @kwugirl Guess Culture Prioritizes not 
 hurting feelings More polite

    Hard if you’re bad at 
 reading social cues
  59. @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
  60. @kwugirl proportion of requests granted requests granted explicit verbal requests

  61. @kwugirl requests granted proportion of requests granted requests granted explicit

    verbal requests
  62. @kwugirl requests granted explicit verbal requests 
 + implicit requests!

    proportion of requests granted requests granted explicit verbal requests
  63. @kwugirl litmus test overview of cultures a few examples pros/cons

    further considerations strategies for handling work situations ! ! ! ! further considerations! !
  64. @kwugirl

  65. @kwugirl personality family __context__

  66. @kwugirl company culture

  67. @kwugirl team culture

  68. @kwugirl personal experiences

  69. @kwugirl women

  70. @kwugirl women “abrasive”

  71. @kwugirl ???

  72. @kwugirl family

  73. @kwugirl family work

  74. @kwugirl clarity of relationship ??????? stranger BFF

  75. @kwugirl litmus test overview of cultures a few examples pros/cons

    further considerations strategies for handling work situations ! ! ! ! ! strategies for handling!
  76. @kwugirl If you’re from Ask Culture…

  77. @kwugirl If you’re from Ask Culture… Make a Guess Culture

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

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

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

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

    be 
 unaware of “the rules”
  82. @kwugirl If you’re from Guess Culture… Remember that people might

    be 
 unaware of “the rules” Resist the urge to “soften” a “No”
  83. @kwugirl example: discussing rent http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/04/14/the-money-taboo-why-it-exists-who-it-benefits-and-how-to-navigate-it/

  84. @kwugirl goal: find out if new apartment’s rent is a

    good deal
  85. @kwugirl “What do you pay for your apartment?”

  86. @kwugirl “I’m looking at this place, is that rent reasonable?”

  87. @kwugirl “I’m looking for an apartment.”

  88. @kwugirl “Do you know what the range tends to be?”

  89. @kwugirl litmus test overview of cultures a few examples pros/cons

    further considerations strategies for handling work situations ! ! ! ! ! ! work situations
  90. @kwugirl work situations general things to consider useful phrasings example

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

    your strengths work situations general things to consider! ! !
  92. @kwugirl short-term vs. long-term

  93. @kwugirl relationships

  94. @kwugirl are you sure you know what other people are

    thinking?
  95. @kwugirl don’t assume they… will react as you would are

    unhappy with you
  96. @kwugirl general things to consider useful phrasings example situations use

    your strengths work situations ! useful phrasings! !
  97. @kwugirl “Hey, I have a question, but it’s totally ok

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

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

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

    question, but it’s totally ok if you want to say no.”
  101. @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.”
  102. @kwugirl “I have an observation, not a judgment—please tell me

    more! I’m curious.”
  103. @kwugirl “Hey, remember when we talked about how I should

    be more assertive? Well, _____”
  104. @kwugirl discuss communication styles

  105. @kwugirl “We have a few options that work, A/B/C. Let

    me know!”
  106. @kwugirl “It really helps me to get near-realtime feedback.”

  107. @kwugirl “Sometimes I have trouble speaking up, it would really

    help if…”
  108. @kwugirl use this talk as an excuse!

  109. @kwugirl “I went to this amazing talk at self.conference…”

  110. @kwugirl general things to consider useful phrasings example situations use

    your strengths work situations ! ! example situations!
  111. @kwugirl getting/giving help

  112. @kwugirl discuss with mentors

  113. @kwugirl

  114. @kwugirl “I’m not sure I understand
 this feature.”

  115. @kwugirl “I’m not sure I understand
 this feature.” (“Can someone

    help me?”)
  116. @kwugirl don’t assume silence == ok

  117. @kwugirl pairing

  118. @kwugirl pairing retro

  119. @kwugirl “I’m not sure I absorbed enough out of that

    last pairing session.”
  120. @kwugirl “What would work better?”

  121. @kwugirl “We were kind of in an exploratory
 phase…maybe next

    time we can save pairing for later?”
  122. @kwugirl working with PM

  123. @kwugirl “I didn’t think this team could get all this

    done.”
  124. @kwugirl what people hear KW KL

  125. @kwugirl what people hear KW KL “The team is dropping

    the ball.”
  126. @kwugirl what people hear KW “We PMs set a really

    aggressive roadmap.” KL “The team is dropping the ball.”
  127. @kwugirl Ask Manager & Guess Report

  128. @kwugirl Ask Manager & Guess Report positive reinforcement for saying

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

    “no” be extremely wary of giving illusion of choice
  130. @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
  131. @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
  132. @kwugirl general things to consider useful phrasings example situations use

    your strengths work situations ! ! ! use your strengths
  133. @kwugirl meetings

  134. @kwugirl be thoughtful, help each other

  135. @kwugirl if you have any questions…

  136. @kwugirl just ask. ;)

  137. @kwugirl just ask. ;)