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Open Letter to the Askholes of the World

People ask me lots of questions.

Questions about my areas of expertise, generally, just like I ask tech-heads about analytics and numbers people about finance.

My modus operandi is to network with many, connect those who need connecting, and act as a resource wherever I can. While that may seem very Rainbow Brite and selfless to you – and indeed, I enjoy assisting where I can – ultimately, it comes down to establishing a community full of resourceful, talented, invested people who will help me when I need it.

But I have found, as I get older, that I have increasingly less patience for the Askholes.

Askholes, in my opinion, fall into two categories:

Those who ask my opinion repeatedly (often requiring an intense investment of research and ongoing support) yet do not take my advice


Those who ask my opinion, but are not really asking for my opinion. They are seeking validation.

Since I like examples, and I think it’s easiest (and fun) to illustrate my point with with them, let’s go:

Hilary, Why Do I Keep Getting Fired?

What you are really asking me to say:

I can’t imagine, sweetie! You are a hard worker (potentially true) and certainly qualified for the job (probably also true.) I’m sure you did everything correctly; your boss is either crazy, or a jerk. End of story.

The truth (which you do not actually want to hear):

Employers and teammates do not like argumentative, aggressive employees who demand explanations on why things are done the way they are done. Bosses don’t have any appreciation for negotiation on what’s required. Certainly not in the first 6 months on the job. How about you stop whining at work? Why don’t you try shutting your mouth and doing what you’re told, on time, without question, and smiling while you do it? I bet you won’t get fired if you try this approach.

Hilary, Why Can’t I Find a Job?

What you are really asking me to say:

I can’t imagine, sweetie! Why don’t I spend 6 hours redoing your resume for you, while you attend a basketball game and get stoned, and then I’ll introduce you to a whole bunch of people who might have jobs for you?

The truth (which you do not actually want to hear):

Well, finding a well paying, rewarding, challenging job in English that only requires morning hours (and gives you all school holidays off including all of April and August) is a very cute little dream. You can continue to whine about the fact that that job doesn’t exist, or……recognize that every job has its ups and downs, decide what down you can legitimately deal with, and go after THAT job by making sure your resume looks great, hunting like your life (or your mortgage?) depends on it, interview like a champ, write a thank you note, follow up and impress the hell out of your potential employer? Have you considered that?

Hilary, Why Didn’t They Offer Me the Job?

(or alternatively)

Hilary, Why Did They Offer Me the Job, But Then Rescind The Offer?

What you are really asking me to say:

I can’t imagine, sweetie! Perhaps they don’t have their ducks in a row, and are not ready to recruit? Such a shame they aren’t recognizing your genius.

The truth (which you do not actually want to hear):

Well, they offered you the job, and you had 1,000 questions about the conditions, the hours, and the contract. Which they answered. Then, you asked for more money. Which they gave you. Then, you asked for more vacation days. Which they (begrudgingly) gave you. Then, you asked for a higher travel budget. That marks you not only a bad negotiator, but an asshole. Who wants to work with an asshole? That’s why they took the offer back – because they recognized your asshole-potential, and ran screaming for the hills instead of employing you.

Hilary, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

What you are really asking me to say:

I can’t imagine, sweetie! You eat healthy and you certainly exercise; perhaps you ought to have your thyroid tested?

The truth (which you do not actually want to hear):

It’s math, honey. Granted, I avoided math (and all sciences, let’s be honest) like the plague in college. In order to graduate, I fulfilled my science requirement by taking a class called “Physics for Poets”. But this is – like – third grade arithmetic.

You want to be smaller, you must take in less than you are expending. Calories count when it’s Friday night. Calories count when you eat standing up. Calories count on your birthday, and on Girls Night Out and yes – wine has calories. It’s not a mystery to me why I don’t fit into my Skinny Jeans. It’s because I wolf cookies at 10pm. See? I’m not in the dark about it. It sucks, but it’s not confusing. You want to weigh less; eat less and move more.

Hilary, Why Aren’t People Helping Me When I Need It?

What you are really asking me to say:

I can’t imagine, sweetie! Maybe everyone around you is an asshole. Except me. I’ll be happy to help you.

The truth (which you do not actually want to hear):

When’s the last time you extended a helping hand? Did you cook your neighbor a meal when she gave birth? How about giving someone a ride into town? When’s the last time you asked around to see who needed assistance and how you could help facilitate it? You get what you give, baby.

While I could play this game all day (and have clearly spent my morning at it) I’m hoping, by now, that you get it. I am not a validation dispensing machine. I spent all of my 20′s and most of my 30′s in that role and while I’m conflict avoidant to a fault, I simply cannot vomit sunshine anymore.

If you need validation, reassurance, or the ability to rant, ask for it. I will gladly oblige. Everybody needs those things, including me. But when you thinly veil the need for validation as a question, clearly demanding a specified, prearranged answer….well, that makes you an Askhole.


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