|Question vs infer: The corrolaries of ask vs hint culture
||[Apr. 13th, 2015|09:19 pm]
One of the posts that periodically makes the rounds on the Internet is Ask vs Hint Culture. The idea goes like so: Imagine that you are in a room, the room is too hot, and there is a window right next to your friend such that it would make the most sense for them to open it. If you are from Ask Culture, you make this happen by saying "Could you please open the window?", and lo and behold, they open it, but if they are from Hint Culture they may find your question unpleasantly aggressive. If you are from Hint Culture, you make this happen by saying "It's really hot in here, isn't it?", and lo and behold, they infer from this that you would like them to open the window and they then open it, but if they are from Ask Culture, they may either miss the hint altogether and not open the window, or else they may find your manner unpleasantly passive-aggressive. There isn't really a 'best' style - they both have their advantages. Ask culture has the advantage that if you want a thing to get done, it is more likely to get done. Hint Culture has the advantage that if you can't do the thing, you have a way to not do it without coming right out and saying "No, I can't do that", and thus everyone gets to save face since the person who did the Hinting can pretend they didn't want the thing, and the person who can't do it doesn't have to outright refuse them. |
One of the issues that comes up between the bf and I is that we have quite different communication styles. Not Ask vs Hint; we're both relatively Ask-oriented when we want a concrete thing to get done. But when it comes to information, there's a similar distinction: Question vs Infer. When he wants to know a thing and I might know it, he asks me directly. When I want to know a thing, I try to find a way that doesn't involve asking outright for the information, for that is Aggressive and Rude. I infer based on other things he's said, I build a mental model of the thing I want to know about and see if I can fill in the gap myself, I look up Wikipedia, I crowdsource on Facebook. And the reason I do this is that when someone asks me something, I feel like there's an implicit expectation that I should know the thing, or at least look it up if I don't know it off the top of my head. When someone has a stream of questions for me I feel like I'm being interrogated and get more and more tense until eventually I bite out a surly "I dunno, why don't you look it up yourself?" and slink off to nurse my injured ego.
Is this a dichotomy anyone else has encountered, from either side?