Bored at work? AOL Jobs is publishing a career quiz every week to keep you entertained. This quiz was so popular with readers when it originally ran that AOL is republishing it.
When your boss asks you to do something you're not all that excited about, do you:
A: Grudgingly accept the assignment and do it, all the while thinking evil thoughts.
B: Just say no.
Your answer to this question will tell you whether you're an Asker or a Guesser, and the way your boss made the request reveals much as well. Knowing if you're an Asker or a Guesser, and understanding which category the people you work with fall into can make a whole world of difference -- in the workplace, and in your private life. It's been a major online topic of discussion lately.
Simply put, the Asker believes it's fine to ask for anything -- a raise, a favor, an assignment, fully realizing that the answer may be "no." The Asker is fine with the "no." "No harm in asking," is a favorite phrase. A boss who is an Asker will say, when turned down, "OK, I'll find someone else to do it," and leave it at that. If it was a demand, the Asker wouldn't have given you the opportunity to accept or decline -- it would have been presented to you as a specific assignment to be completed by a certain date or time. If you answered B to the above question, you're an Asker.
The Guesser is a bit more subtle. The Guesser avoids voicing the request unless he or she is quite certain the answer will be "yes." The Guesser puts out feelers to find out what the answer might be. For example, the Guesser will ask, "Are you busy right now?" Or, "What are your plans for this afternoon?" The Guesser is actually hoping for an offer, such as "I'm not doing anything of major importance -- can I help you with something?"
The Guesser also feels bad about saying "no" to a direct request, because, since they don't ask for something unless they're pretty sure the answer will be yes, they think everyone expects a yes, and a no would be a negative reflection on them. If you answered A to the above question, you're a Guesser, and probably accept, but resent doing, the more inconvenient things asked of you.
Putting It To Use
Knowing which category your boss falls into can be invaluable. It will help you discern whether or not it's all right to just say no, or to step up to the plate and offer even before being asked. If you're a Guesser, you might resent Askers. The realization that "no" is an acceptable answer and will not dock you any brownie points can be enlightening and save you a lot of guilt.
By the way, Guessers are also more likely to make an excuse, rather than offer a blatant rejection, because that's what they would prefer. If a Guesser really doesn't want to accommodate a request, he or she will say, "I'd really like to, but I have so many things on my plate right now I just can't get around to it." The Asker looks at an excuse as a problem to be solved, and will probably respond with, "well, my assignment is top priority, so put the other projects on the back burner and do mine immediately." If the employee would have simply said "no," the Asker would have moved on to the next likely candidate.
The whole subject entered the zeitgeist as a result of an awkward social situation discussed on Ask MetaFilter. A couple who lived in a small Manhattan apartment wanted to know how they should respond to an acquaintance who asked if she could stay with them for a few nights while she was in town on business. The couple hardly knew the Asker, had no intention of letting her inconvenience them, and wanted to know how to respond.
The most popular comment, by far, was, "You are allowed to say no without offering an explanation, you know. You're not the one who's being rude. She is. Also, an explanation to her leaves the door open for her in the future. (Say) 'No, I'm afraid that won't be possible.' Practice it. Use it."
Personally, I'm the poster child for the Guessers, as many women are. For me, half the fun of the inquiry is figuring out how to solicit an offer without even having to ask -- that way I completely avoid the pain of rejection. For example, I'll say to a friend, "Are you a Jake Gyllenhaal fan?" Rather than asking, "Do you want to see 'Prince of Persia' with me tonight?" I can now see I'm going to have to work on being more direct, and not being offended when someone is direct with me.
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