In no particular order:
- As diverse communities are more likely to measure their responses (both verbal and in body language) for the benefit of others, the politesse they’ve grown up with can feel diametrically opposed to western culture sometimes. Cultural norms of controlling one’s reactions enable people to suspend judgement, maintain social cohesion, tolerate inappropriacy, identify and address root causes rather than surface issues.
- Social cues can be more about what is not said than what is said. Length of silences suggest people are grappling with an issue as they spin in their minds what they should say. People in the west then fill the silence with chatter, inevitably missing the mark, which leads to a feeling of not being listened to.
- A controlled response may seem manipulative, but it’s not. It may seem like an acceptance of inappropriacy, but it’s not. It usually just indicates a continued indecision about you.
- This is a direct contradiction to the western demand for authenticity which, for many in diverse communities, creates internal conflict. The external experience of authenticity is far more conflicting though, as in the west, authenticity is used as an excuse… for racism, sexism, inappropriate behaviour, crimes even… (“didn’t know”, “didn’t intend it”, “it’s not who they really are”…)
- If you have been socialized to control your reactions for the benefit of others, there’s a limited threshold to further diminish yourself, especially when confronted by the easily inflamed (ie. by social media posts that have nothing to do with them). It usually requires a ton of emotional energy to manage them, for the simple reason that they can behave authentically.
- There are a myriad of ways to address issues that arise from those unable to control their reactions, particularly to preserve the safety of others. Due to wide gaps in power, this role usually falls to women (sadly, this doesn’t exist in the west) who usually only exercise this as a last resort.
- For most business people in Asia, the community you were born into will become your most important network. They eclipse a professional network because family networks more reliably provide intergenerational connections and are a type of insurance. Familial competition guarantees members of your extended family similarly rise but across different fields to yours.
- Professional networks require the bulk of your time. Family networks require the bulk of your energy, especially emotional energy.
- Professional networks are choices (optional commitments)… simply because you cannot pick your family. As women age, especially following a generational transition, power across these networks coalesce. This becomes exponentially so for professional women.
- It is normal to expect, committing to an erratic boss will inevitabily become a professional handicap, if they require all your emotional energy to cater to them. It’s usually in your best interest to determine whose problem they will be, should things get out of hand, beforehand. There’s nothing unusual about this, except maybe the uncontrolled reactions.