Petty Hates : “Just Ask”

Talking to my cousin this week I remembered something that annoyed me even to recall it.  This was an episode at work that annoyed me for many reasons, but for one in particular.

I was drafting some report definition documents.  You won’t be surprised to hear that these are known as RDDs.  In the area in which I work, we’ve very rarely needed to get reports built, not least because we can usually build them ourselves.  However, we would help other people draft their RDDs when they needed some advice on technical details.

So writing my own was new.  I’d been sent the form to complete and looked over it.  It didn’t look too difficult.  In fact, it didn’t look difficult at all.  It looked completely straight forward, especially since I’d already outlined all the technical build in the technical specification.  This should just be about saying how I want the report to appear.

I had several higher priorities so I moved the RDD back a bit.  I completed what was largely a cut and paste exercise, sent the report to the multitude of people who wanted to sign it off and thought no more about it really.  That was until I got all the messages about the project being at risk because the RDD was poor and the deadline was later that day and there was no way it was going to get done.

The bit that really irked was the question, “If you didn’t know how to do it, why didn’t you just ask?”

My retort similarly irked other people – “If you knew I didn’t know how to do it, why didn’t you show me?”

It’s that two word phrase that is my petty hate – “just ask”.  It’s one that was quite common on online dating profiles too.  You’d see a lot of pictures but the profile piece would contain only those two words.

It annoys me because it shows a lack of proactivity that can oftentimes be what is actually required.  At work, the person asking why I didn’t “just ask” was the person who knew, the person who could have done it themselves but didn’t want to because they were senior, which should surely be grounds for them to help proactively with their expertise.  After all, I didn’t think there was anything to ask about.

In the dating world, I know this is sometimes a hard ask but it would be nice if information was volunteered rather than having to go looking.  If you’re not willing to tell someone anything, why should they bother finding it out?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for asking for questions.  There is also a time for volunteering information.

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