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Tell Culture — LessWrong

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the differences between "Ask", "Guess", and "Tell" cultures in communication, and advocates for the use of "Tell" culture within rationalist communities.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Differences between Ask, Guess, and Tell Cultures

1. What are the key differences between Ask, Guess, and Tell cultures?

  • Ask culture: Directly asking for what you want, with the expectation that the other person can freely say "yes" or "no".
  • Guess culture: Indirectly hinting at what you want, with the expectation that the other person will infer your request and comply if possible.
  • Tell culture: Openly communicating your internal state and thoughts, with the expectation of mutual understanding and transparency.

2. What are the pros and cons of each communication style?

  • Ask culture is more direct and efficient, but can come across as rude or demanding.
  • Guess culture is more polite and considerate, but can lead to miscommunication and unmet needs.
  • Tell culture requires more honesty and vulnerability, but can build deeper trust and understanding.

3. Why does the author advocate for Tell culture within rationalist communities?

  • The author believes Tell culture aligns better with the rationalist values of truth-seeking and open communication.
  • However, the author acknowledges that Tell culture may be seen as aggressive or manipulative by those more accustomed to Guess culture.

[02] Developing Trust in Tell Culture

1. How does the author suggest building trust in a Tell culture?

  • The author recommends explicitly stating that you are not asking with an expectation of compliance, but rather to better understand the other person's perspective.
  • This helps establish an environment of mutual understanding and transparency, rather than one of demands and obligations.

2. What are the potential pitfalls of implementing Tell culture?

  • The author warns that being occasionally dishonest or manipulative can erode the trust necessary for Tell culture to function effectively.
  • There is also the risk of alienating those more comfortable with Guess culture, who may perceive Tell culture as overly aggressive or intrusive.

3. How does the author suggest navigating cultural differences in communication styles?

  • The author suggests taking the time to learn the "dialect" of Guess culture when interacting with those from that background.
  • Additionally, the author recommends seeking explicit agreement on communication norms and expectations when possible, to bridge the cultural gap.
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