Asking is hard.
The moment we ask, we impose on the other. We make them responsible, to take on the burden of whatever we've asked, or to take on the burden of saying no. There is no way to ask without creating a sense of obligation in the air, forcing another person to make a decision about something that matters to you, not them. How to offset that? No amount of "it's okay if you say no" or "please don't feel obligated" can do it.
And so, we don't ask. We hint. We create inference. We present observations or information, expecting that the implicit ask is there. And when the other person opts for the choice of not answering, we read that as "no." It's a courtesy we do for them, for their convenience, to spare them the responsibility of having to say no, if no is the answer.
Which is better? (hint: better is relative)
Should we strive to make ourselves so independent, our needs so small, that we never bother one another with asks? Is that even possible?
I give my kids 3 pushups for asking me for something they know I'll say no to, given the rules and their own knowledge of what is right. I'm really saying, it's your responsibility, don't burden me with the decision to say no. I stand by it.
Am I teaching something else, too? Am I teaching them not to ask? I hope they can learn the distinction. Because how often do we assume the answer will be no, when there is actually a good chance it's yes? And isn't it good to push the rule, once in awhile, to make sure it's not arbitrary?
Well, not if you piss Mom off in the process :-)
Not if you already know the answer before you ask. But, be sure you really do know, and it's not just insecure assumptions.
I think perhaps the last component comes when I do ask, and force the other to say yes or no. I have to be ready to be as gracious about a No as a Yes. In asking, I create a responsibility to myself to create a safe environment for a no answer, to create the lightest burden possible in the exchange. Getting more skilled at hearing no means more graceful and effective asking.
(When I think about how I've been nagging the Universe with asks, lately, I think I need to do three pushups myself)