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May 11, 2010


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1) Last point first: Saying what he paid would let you do a quick estimate of how much he makes. Many people are uncomfortable with that.

It's not him. My Mom was in real estate for forty years -- I mean, we were the kind of family that got stories of botched escrow deals and easements over the dinner table. And there's a whole nexus of stuff related to this topic that real estate agents must learn to be really sensitive about. Because while some people don't care at all, others most definitely do -- and they'll be alarmed and then ticked, if they think the real estate agent might be wandering around blurting out how much they paid.

2) Kids are born askers, and must learn to become guessers. Just throwing that out there.

3) Speaking only for myself, I was an asker for many years, but have been gradually evolving into a guesser. This has pluses and minuses but overall I consider it a net positive both personally and professionally. I could go into why, but that would probably end up a post in its own right.

I will note that this issue cross-references in my mind with the recent Ta-Nehisi Coates post where he talks about how ignorance is a luxury of power. (His starting points are Andy Rooney and rap. I like Coates.) Also that being a guesser has uses that go far beyond enjoying a well-written novel, though it's good for that too.

4) "You gotta realize you might get no for an answer". Askers split into several subgroups, depending on whether (a) they generally are, in fact, cool with getting no for an answer; and (b) whether or not they're fooling themselves about that.

The second variable is key. Certainly a plurality and probably a majority of askers are going to be much more annoyed with "no" than they would ever have acknowledged when they asked.

Doug M.

Ah. Hypothesis: people who really deep down believe in the favor bank are much more likely to be askers. That is, if you expect that your friends will crash on your couch after losing their jobs and spouses, then you're much more likely to ask them to pay for Yankees tickets.

Or vice versa.

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