|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
As I stated in CB, I agree wholeheartedly. However, the excessive use of tact is currently driving me up the wall. A refresher: I'm in Japan for a year, Japanese has more built in honorifics than any language I'm aware of, Japanese social constructs focus around Harmony above all else. A warning: this has nothing (directly) to do with Perl. But I think we're all above that.
tact Pronunciation: 'takt Function: noun
That said, the Japanese are so tactful it's sometimes hard to get anything done. I'm sure I strike them as a barbarian, but at least I can communicate with other barbarians; they have trouble communiating with each other.
Example 2: My bosses will never ask each other if I've been assigned a task, partially because they assume the other will be doing their job and have given me the necessary specs (Japanese specs are a whole 'nother can of worms). I have to keep them up to date, which is inconvenient when the person who knows what I'm supposed to do it out of the office for the day. They've finally learned to some extent to ask me about ETA's so that they can plan properly.
This boils down to the idea that "there can only be communication between equals." The example is easy to illustrate in Japanese customs, but I'm sure we've all had the same problems back home as well in whatever our native language. So younger types (that includes me), don't be afraid to ask questions when you don't have a clue because you think you're taking too much of their time or don't want to look like a fool (a related problem).
Too little tact makes people defensive and angry. It's not their fault! Too much tact makes people overly cautious and untalkative. It's not a stupid question! I think by far our worst problem on perlmonks is a lack of tact rather than too much, but in the workplace the problem is often the opposite.