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Ask vs. Guess Culture (lighting talk)

Ask vs. Guess Culture (lighting talk)

A talk on the ask vs. guess culture communication style difference (see http://www.thewire.com/national/2010/05/askers-vs-guessers/19730/)

Presented July 2014 at New Relic engineering offsite, ~9 minutes: http://youtu.be/Fi9uBYIbNFc.

Katherine Wu

July 16, 2014
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  1. Ask vs. Guess Cultures
    KWu, an Ask Culture person

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  2. You
    Jamie
    Taylor

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  3. You
    Jamie
    Taylor

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  4. You
    Jamie
    Taylor
    Can Taylor
    stay with you?

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  5. You
    Jamie
    ?
    Taylor

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  6. You
    Jamie
    I’ll just tell
    them no.
    Taylor

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  7. You
    Jamie
    or
    Taylor

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  8. You
    Jamie
    Ugh, this puts !
    me in a difficult
    position.
    Taylor

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

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

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  11. avoid asking unless
    the answer will be yes
    GUESS

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  12. ASK GUESS
    Northeast Pacific Northwest
    Midwest

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  13. ASK GUESS
    Northeast Pacific Northwest
    Midwest

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  14. a few examples

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

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  16. Hey, I’m going to this party,
    do you want to come?

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  17. Hmm that sounds interesting,
    I’ll have to check.

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  18. Oh yeah, maybe…

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

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  20. THIS MEANS NO.

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  21. Me: “Hmm, I don’t have time to make lunch 

    ! ! for next week.”

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  22. Me: “Hmm, I don’t have time to make lunch 

    ! ! for next week.”
    Dan hears

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  23. Me: “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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  24. Dan: “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”

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  25. Dan: “I’m going to cook 2 meals this weekend.”
    I think

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  26. Dan: “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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  27. Dan: “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
    What I did not say: “Oh, you don’t have to do that.”

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  28. End Result
    Me Dan

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

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  30. End Result
    Me
    “Why do we have
    so much food
    in the fridge?”
    Dan
    “I’m such a good
    husband.”

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  31. Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency

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  32. Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity

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  33. Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity
    Gets what you want

    (in the short-term)

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  34. Ask Culture
    Prioritizes efficiency
    No ambiguity
    Gets what you want

    (in the short-term)
    More open conflict

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  35. 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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  36. Guess Culture

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  37. Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings

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  38. Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings
    More polite

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  39. Guess Culture
    Prioritizes not 

    hurting feelings
    More polite
    Hard if you’re bad at 

    reading social cues

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  40. 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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  41. strategies for handling

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  42. If you’re from Ask Culture…

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  43. If you’re from Ask Culture…
    Make a Guess Culture close friend

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

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  45. 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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  46. If you’re from Guess Culture…

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  47. If you’re from Guess Culture…
    Remember that people might be 

    unaware of “the rules”

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  48. 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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  49. work situations

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  50. peer-to-peer

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  51. peer-to-peer
    code review

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  52. peer-to-peer
    code review
    working across different offices

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  53. “Hey, I have a question, but it’s
    totally cool if you want to say no.”

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  54. manager-to-report

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  55. manager-to-report
    discuss communication styles

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  56. manager-to-report
    discuss communication styles
    Ask Manager + Guess Report = be careful!

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  57. if you have any questions…

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  58. just ask. ;)

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