Except when it comes to Sarah (and that’s primarily because I know that it would cause FAR more trouble), I rather ask forgiveness for my actions than permission. Not that you’re being impolite about things or doing something that you know you’re going to regret — it’s just that much of the time, you can make things far easier for yourself and still get the same result.
Asking permission to do something can be nerve-wracking. It’s not entirely our faults that sometimes we’d prefer to shrink away than enter into a potential conflict. As kids, we have to ask our parents for everything we want to have or do. We must ask teachers in order to go to the washroom. We are not seen as self-reliant when we’re young, and that makes a lot of sense.
But if this is the case, why do we still let people treat us like children as we get older? If taking an action doesn’t a) commit a crime, b) hurt anyone, or c) put you in a bad light otherwise… why do you need to ask for everything? Granted, you may not know what the outcome of your actions might be in advance, but I think that with a combination of good judgment and a heap of common sense, these are situations that are easily navigable.
We’re often intimidated by certain people — bosses, spouses and people with particularly fierce personalities come to mind — and this spurs our fight-or-flight reaction to avoid asking them for anything unless it’s really important. I’ve seen micromanagers who demand that their staff mark their location on a whiteboard at all times — EVEN WHEN THEY GO TO THE WASHROOM! And the sad thing is that the staff simply fall in line, regardless of how ludicrous the request is!
While there are very valid reasons why we need to ask permission for certain things (such as requests that must go up to your boss’ boss’ boss or when you need to make any sort of major financial transaction from a joint account), I’d argue that these are not the majority of situations.
If you have a good idea at work, do it! Later on when you have to explain your idea to your boss, it’s better to have something concrete to demonstrate it rather than a number of abstract concepts that might be hard to understand.
Want to ask a question? Ask it! When I hear “Can I ask a question?” it usually get the same response: “Would you like to ask another?” There’s no such thing as a stupid question. There are such things as offensive, volatile and insensitive questions, though! If you know your question won’t make you look like a jerk, then fire away!
Want to do something without checking with your significant other first? DON’T DO IT!!! One key reason why asking permission first can be important is because in some situations, we’re emotionally invested! Remember yelling at your parents? Fighting with your siblings? Giving the person you share your bed with the cold shoulder? These are the people who can easily get under your skin, and you can do the same to them. At work, a job is the sum total of the outputs you produce while employed. A question is a simple mechanism used to gain more information. But in a relationship of any significance, asking permission shows that you respect the other person and that their opinion matters to you, as you likely have a larger impact on their life than others might!
So stop asking for permission all the time! You’re an adult and you need to act like one. Sometimes you’ll stir things up. Sometimes you’ll rock the boat. But it’s from mistakes we learn, and how do you plan to do so if you’re too scared to make any?
Remember — you won’t be treated like an adult if you keep agreeing to live like a child.
–Casey E. Palmer