Are You An Asker Or A Guesser?

asker or guesser
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.

The Asker

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

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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October 11 2011 at 4:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

??? - Is there anybody with the IQ above a kumquat that takes this article seriously - ???

The content & subject matter reads like someone who has never actually had a job in the real world she's had to keep. These 'labels' are inane .
Reads like a mindless Cosmopolitan magazine article which features dramatic headlines on the cover -crafted in the form of a question- " Asker or Guesser: Which Are You? ". The article is predictably: non-factual, vapid, rambling, editorial nonsense.

Yup, sounds pretty right on, I think we have arrived all categories covered. Complete with meaningless conclusions.

What 'awards' has the author of this article won ?
Yes & Follow this authors' books advise to 'repackage yourself'
to the you really want'. A real standard in the job marketplace I am sure.....

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Learn more on

June 08 2010 at 12:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Think on this

Ppl's, most specifically guessers comments here are SO funny. Now, feeling slighted or criticized by this article they are making up so so many excuses for their actions. They're giving explanations for why it's a good thing to be a guesser/server/willing or eager participant and saying that they feel proud, even going so far as to point the finger at the askers and painting them in a negative light calling them self serving and entitled. I am not exactly an asker, or a guesser. I actually probably fall under both categories depending on who I'm talking to. Well actually I guess I'm a guesser because the article is about the work place at which i am definitely a guesser. LOLOL! I really understand both sides of this and find the asker to seems less convoluted and dishonest. The guesser doesn't wanna be in the wrong or penalized and ends up punishing themselves attempting to test the waters or lie to get out of something. LOL! I can't say i dont get it tho. One of the huge things I think ppl are forgetting is that while the askers are more likely to give a direct no when they don't want to do a task in the work place, it doesn't mean that's the only answer they ever give to things asked of them. They may rarely say no bc they may rarely have a problem doing something. But when they do they feel free to simply say no. I really don't think that's something negative. Maybe you shouldn't take such offense ppl.

June 08 2010 at 12:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Think on this

Yeah. I totally, totally, understand the urge to be subversive and indirect as opposed to direct because u don't want to be told no. I think tho (maybe not for u, but for MANY)it's less about not wanting to feel rejected and more about control. U don't want to be told no because u want ppl to in fact do what u ask. If u manipulate ppl by engaging them in a convo about how much they love Mr. Gyllenhaal then they look like they're in the wrong if they don't agree to accompany u to the new movie he's in. If they've just gone on and on with u in a Gyllenhaal love fest their no makes them seem like there is a problem with going with u specifically. So it's almost like a silent personal attack, unless they give u a reason (excuse) as to why they can't go, besides the assumed unspoken "I don't like you or find u special enough to go with etc.". Correction if that person is in fact a "guesser" as well (which I truly believe most are.)
I have now gotten to the point where I answer ppl that seem like guessers frankly bc I don't like the feeling of being manipulated. U're not going to just guilt me into whatever u want me to do. I don't like it. It feels like u question my intelligence or sometimes like u feel I don't have the balls to tell u no. LOL! Sometimes I know ppl don't know any other way to be and aren't trying to work u over. I can let it go with them especially if I don't know them well.

June 07 2010 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

unless you work for yourself, esp. in todays economy, you're niether asker nor guesser but a** Kisser..shucks even if you do work for yourself you gladly are kissin a little... No?

June 07 2010 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is it just me, or does this whole article reek of "mind-game playing"?
If it's part of your job, do it.
If it's not (or you can't do it, for whatever reason) say so.
I've been "The Boss". Don't play games, just be honest and straight-forward. I don't have time for HMM & HAW.

June 07 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So, there are only 2 kinds of people at work. That's really special.

This article is complete bull shit. HEY! Maybe there are only 2 kinds of articles - Bull Shit and Non Bull Shit. I think I am on to something - maybe a new career in article writing for AOL!

June 07 2010 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I did everything asked of me including most of my manager's job. I fixed everything my co-workers screwed up and the client's loved me. I worked all the overtime that needed to be worked at the price of time with my kids while my co-workers barely put in 40 hours. I picked up the slack and did all the extra things needing done WITHOUT being asked. When the layoffs started the highest paid people including me were let go. The screw-ups and the new people were kept because they made less.

In this economy you shouldn't tell a boss no when asked to do something but hard, accurate work does not ensure job security either.

June 07 2010 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wasn't it that Great American Philosopher, John Dillanger, who once said, "You get more with a Friendly Smile and a Gun, than you get with a Friendly Smile alone."

June 07 2010 at 7:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charles Carter

Shawn, in a way, you are right. I have had other workers and even supervisors that felt threatened by me. Particularly when other workers told supervisor I was after his job. If you are after his job, you have to really excel. If not, figure out the job politics and coast. Those that work the job politics seldom have real friends on the job.
PS: Hard and smart work always worked for me and I'm a dummy.

June 07 2010 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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