Suppose four friends need to agree on pizza toppings. Depending on what culture they are from, they might follow several different procedures:
We could call the first type of system Guess Culture. In a Guess culture, it's considered rude, or costs face, to refuse a direct request. This means that if you ask somebody for the wrong thing - like "Can I have a cookie?", when they actually want all their cookies - they have to give it to you, and may be silently angry and resentful. This in turn means that you have to Guess whether the request is welcome before asking for anything.
In the rarer Ask Culture, it's understood that people who don't want to meet a request will just say "no", with no harm done, thus enabling people to ask for things even if the request isn't welcome. E.g., "I'm curious as to how that tastes. It's totally okay if you say no, but could I have one of those cookies?" Even with the disclaimer, this sentence won't work in a Guess Culture because you are not allowed to just say no, regardless of what disclaimers were attached. There must be a common cultural understanding that you really truly are allowed to say no, before someone can ask if they can have a cookie without already being sure they're allowed to have one.
Tell Culture is a more extreme version of Ask Culture, in which someone might say, "Are you feeling not very attached to those cookies? I have a 3 out of 10 desire to know how they taste", trying to convey all the relevant info about their own mental state that could be helpful in making a decision, and the other person might reply, "I'm not super attached to these cookies but I think I'd feel 5 out of 10 bad about giving them up" and so the cookies are kept.
Obviously, you cannot just ask someone whether it's okay to use Ask Culture or Tell Culture rules in conversation with them. If they're from a Guess Culture, they won't be able to reply "No", even if they would actually be very offended.