Askers vs. Guessers: The Power of Understanding Each Negotiation Style


Communication is a complex process that can either lead to successful interactions or misunderstandings and conflicts. It involves various factors, such as personality type, current mood, language, and most importantly, communication style. One specific aspect of communication style, particularly relevant in negotiations, is the distinction between “askers” and “guessers.”

Asking vs. guessing what the other person wants

Definition of Askers and Guessers

The concept of askers vs. guessers first emerged in a MetaFilter discussion. Askers are individuals who feel comfortable requesting what they want, even if they anticipate a negative response. On the other hand, guessers are more cautious and tend to avoid asking for things unless they are reasonably sure of a positive outcome.

How They Affect Relationships

Communication issues in relationships can often be traced back to the compatibility between askers and guessers. When two individuals with different communication styles interact, tensions may arise, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an Asker

Directness and Honesty

Askers are known for their directness and honesty in expressing their needs and desires. They do not hesitate to ask for what they want, which can lead to a clear understanding of their intentions.

Presumptuousness and Rudeness

However, askers may be perceived as presumptuous and rude by guessers. They might come across as demanding without considering possible objections, especially in negotiation scenarios like divorce proceedings.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Guesser

Empathy and Politeness

Guessers are often empathic and considerate individuals. They are sensitive to others’ feelings and tend to avoid making requests that could potentially burden or inconvenience others.

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Indecisiveness and Passivity

On the downside, guessers might be seen as indecisive and passive, leading them to miss out on opportunities or not assert their needs effectively.

Balancing the Approach in Negotiations

Improving Negotiation Skills for Askers

Reading the Room

Askers can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome in negotiations by carefully reading the situation. Choosing an appropriate time and place to make their requests can avoid putting others on the spot and result in more thoughtful responses.

Considering Others’ Feelings

Being an asker doesn’t mean disregarding the feelings of others. Compromise is crucial in negotiations, and being considerate of others’ perspectives can lead to more mutually beneficial outcomes.

Softening Requests

Askers can improve their negotiation skills by using a softer approach when making requests. Adding qualifying details and emotional appeals can make their demands more appealing and reasonable.

Improving Negotiation Skills for Guessers

Preparing Counterpoints

Guessers can enhance their negotiation skills by anticipating potential objections and preparing counterpoints. This allows them to present their requests in a more convincing manner.

Being Clear and Firm

Overthinking or fearing negative responses should not hinder guessers from making requests. Being clear and firm about what they want, along with valid reasons, can increase the chances of their requests being fulfilled.

Choosing the Right Setting

Selecting a comfortable and safe setting for negotiation is vital for guessers. Opting for a place where they feel confident and where the other party is receptive can lead to more successful outcomes.


In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to whether being an asker or a guesser is better. Both communication styles have their strengths and weaknesses, and the key lies in striking a balance. A tactful, thoughtful, and productive approach is essential for successful communication and negotiation.

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  1. Is being an asker more effective in negotiations? While askers tend to get what they want more often, it’s essential to consider the specific context and use a considerate approach.
  2. Can guessers be assertive in their requests? Yes, guessers can improve their negotiation skills and assert their needs effectively by being clear and preparing for potential objections.
  3. Are askers always rude and presumptuous? Not necessarily. Askers who employ empathy and consider others’ feelings can avoid coming across as rude.
  4. Is compromising always better than asserting one’s needs? Both compromising and asserting needs are valuable skills in negotiations. The best approach depends on the situation and the parties involved.
  5. Can individuals switch between being askers and guessers? Yes, individuals may adopt different communication styles depending on the context and the people they are interacting with.

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