I have an ask…

I heard this quite a bit recently while up in Redmond.

"I have an ask for you"

"Do you have an ask?"

and more. It’s annoying, and disturbing. Hearing that distracts me from the conversation taking place. I keep wanting to say “do you mean you have a request?”

Even Microsoft employees don’t love it. However, the usage is not necessarily incorrect, which surprises me. And further annoys me.

I’m sure there’s no way to stop it, but it reads like poor choice of words, picked to seem cool or hip.

It’s not for me, and it doesn’t encourage me to do anything for you.

About way0utwest

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4 Responses to I have an ask…

  1. In non-profits “the ask” refers to explicitly asking for money. In other words, if I’m a big rich dude and you invite me to your college and give me tour and talk about some library you want to build, the ask is the point when you say “so do you want the library named after you, or just a wing”. “The ask” is a small but important part of a process.

    At that point the term makes sense. There is a large indirect sales pitch and courtship process that could last hours that culminates in a direct asking for money. However, at a MSFT campus, I gather these asks are just questions without a lot of pretense beyond “I have an ask” Your not talking about anything taboo like money or sex.

    So yeah unless your buying me lunch or a drink and working your way up to the ask, just say I have a question.

    • way0utwest says:

      I guess that makes sense. It is valid English language usage, but I think it’s become a “cool” thing to not state a request, but “have an ask”. Ugh

  2. Ron Kyle says:

    Languages are living. To me it’s just a different word. Just as Americans will add -ize to change a noun to a verb (e.g. hospitalize when a speaker of British English would say admitted to hospital) so you have these. This may be a fad, and if so, it will fade. Germans use the word Sprachgefuhl for the concept of “if it seems like a good addition, it will stand the test of time, otherwise it won’t.”

    • way0utwest says:

      I don’t love the -ize thing, and that’s overused as well. Certainly languages evolve, and new words come around. I think someone high up at MS started saying “I have an ask” and everyone followed to emulate the individual. However, it’s one thing that throws me in a conversation as it’s a usage I have never used and sounds wrong.

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