I was browsing a website on my phone using the Dolphin browser when a prompt came up. I couldn’t take a screenshot, so I am paraphrasing what the prompt said:

In order to improve this application, would you mind giving your experience a star rating?

Below the question were two command buttons

No | Rate

‘Uh-0h,’ I said to no one in particular.

When someone asks me something by phrasing it in the Do You Mind form, it’s often an invitation for trouble.

Sometimes, the Do you mind is a request that you do something, in which case you can just do whatever’s requested and get it over with:

Do you mind passing the fork?

<pass the fork>

In other cases, it’s meant to seek permission for the speaker to do something, in which case it gets slightly tricky:

Do you mind if I smoke?

Technically, it’s just a Yes/No question. If you are fine with the smoke, say No, else say Yes.

Sometimes, if you just say No, it’s interpreted as a No for the action instead of the minding. That’s probably because the asker is ultimately looking for an answer to their original proposition and the do you mind part comes out subconsciously due to politeness, introducing a confusing layer of negation which they don’t account for in the post-processing. The same problem happens if you answer Yes. Combine it with ambiguous Indian head-waving/nodding and it’s enough to flummox foreigners.

On the other hand, if you really do mind, and want to convey that, a simple and forceful Yes sounds rather blunt and rude, and you might not want to say it.

Do you mind if I smoke?


<awkward silence>

Usually, people manage such situations by saying neither Yes nor No, instead saying something that explicitly conveys what they want and why.

Do you mind if I leave?

(I don’t mind) No problem/sure, go ahead.

(I mind) Err, I would rather you wait.

Do you mind if I smoke?

(I don’t mind) No problem/sure, go ahead.

(I mind) Err, I would rather you not. Could you go out instead? Thanks!