ASKING AND TELLING …  An Understanding; A Significant Difference.


I asked, “Can I go?”

I said, “I am going there.”

By asking, we are giving our attention to someone else. We sublime our egos and let the ball roll in the other court. The answer can be a NO or YES. His opinion is significant.

By Telling, we take the upper hand and make the person a mere listener. His opinion becomes secondary, and he becomes passive.

Imagine the difference.

One of the students ASKS the teacher, “Madam, can I go to the washroom?”

The student TELLS the teacher, “Madam, I will go to the washroom.”

There is a variance between PERMISSION and INFORMATION.

Can you remember when you stopped asking for small things from your ageing parents and started telling them?

Many times, even telling was skipped, and the parents found out from different sources. However, the parent’s caring attitude did not change. They realized that the child had grown up so much that they weren’t going to bother asking anymore.

Ironically speaking and applying this logic, the child is now an adult and is bound to make decisions on his own. Caring parents for sure will not jeopardise their child’s plans by saying NO. But still, at heart, they expect to be asked, rather than told.

“You need to trust; To surrender; To ask for guidance. Go within for answers; they are within you. You have the answers; all you need do is ask.KAREN HACKEL.

Why are we so scared of asking?

A lack of confidence makes us shaky, and we are afraid to ask. We avoid the agony of denial.

What if the father says a NO? Why would he say no, if the demand for a version is positive and self-assuring?

I don’t remember ever asking for anything from my late parents. Most of the time, it was talking to the mother and conveying it to the father. With time, a strong wall of miscommunication developed between me and my father. I regret and still repent for that loss.

Now, as a father of two grown-up children, I envisage similar feelings. I want to be asked, rather than told.

“The golden rule is if we asked for more and negotiated with more confidence, we would get more. There is no weakness in asking. If we wait for someone to give us what we want, chances are we won’t get it. Take the risk of asking for everything you need and want.”


There is a flip side to this.

A friend of mine would always say NO {by making one or the other excuse} whenever I asked him, “Hey, can I come to see you?” I realised that I was giving him a choice.

I changed my stance. Instead of asking, “Hey, I will see you in the evening.” My formula worked. My friend couldn’t deny it.


The catch is; if you want to have a drink with me; don’t ask, tell me that you are coming.








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  1. Doctor you have caught a sensitive and a current issue. True, Asking is giving attention to someone else or taking their opinion. Whereas telling is zero consultation. Parents are caring always and counsellors too. Asking parents will surely give a more positive experience. Emotional and social provocations may become problems, but are always handled better when shared with parents. Their wisdom and experience has a positive impact. But it is like this—
    The wind is blowing, those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it and go forward on their way but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is that the fault of the wind?

    1. Dr. Anuj says:

      Harsh you have put the point so strongly and intelligently. I like the example of the sailboat. I lived my major years with parents and I understood the value and need of asking. I expect the same from this generation…. but, things are not the same. There is more telling than asking. I don’t know who is missing…. the parents or the children.
      thanks for the brilliant input.

  2. Thank you doctor for your appreciation

  3. Porus Debara says:

    Anuj a very sensitive issue. But it varies from situation to situation. Children should ask their parents as they have many years of experience behind them but in some situations the parents may not be in a position to advise as they may not be able to grasp the whole situation. Times have changed, so have values. Independence is the new norm.

    1. Dr. Anuj says:

      you are right Porus. Times have really changed dear. But I still remember always asking my parents….. but that is a past. we are dealing with a different scenario now.
      thanks for your views bro.

  4. Dr Ashok Kumar Ojha. says:

    There is a big difference rather an attitudnal wise behaviour between asking and telling, particularly when issues are related to parents.. Asking is more assertive I suppose whereas telling, obviously, is a polite proposition..You have rightly explained that in our childhood, it used to be difficult or at times embarrassing to ask some favour from Papa..The route which used to be followed was through mother or Mummy..At times we used to tell to our mother
    only and think that Papa will not say anything if something goes wrong.We were hopeful that Mom will come to our rescue.. Nicely scripted the inherent difference between asking and telling Anuj..

    1. Dr. Anuj says:

      I appreciate your views and acknowledge your appreciation. Thanks, Bhai. keep reading and posting your valuable feedback. regards.

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