Monday, March 27, 2006

Heart Vs. Mind

I just attended a training about the culture differences between US and india. I was expecting the trainer to go on about the greatness of US. Actually the people who attended it before I, told me to she would. But i was pleasantly surprised when the lady waxed rather patriotic. She was like " They don't understand you and truthfully they don't care to understand you. you are the alien creature in their habitat ... so when in rome... you don't have to be a roman but atleasr behave like one. Of course there is a question of how long one can pretend before it becomes a habit and a belief.

I came back feeling that the americans were weird people, more self centered machines than humans. everything is logic with them and no emotions. their attitude is I, me , myself - first, middle and last

I do not understand the kind of independence they seem to enjoy. I need poeple ... loads of them. I thrive in crowds (Ah! actually I am claustrophobic...but u get the idea right?!). I was told proactive help is frowned upon, we were told not to offer any unless specifically asked, caselets were read out where people got into trouble for helping others , whereas here we are taught to help even without being asked. (forget the statistics of how many people actually do it).

But the americans love us for our amazing tolerance level. After all we go out of our way to get things done ... even at the cost of our sleep and health.

I remember an instance when a friend of mine was blasted by his american manager. poor guy was flabbergasted. The mistake he had done did not warrant such an extreme reaction from his manager. Later his manager apologised to him and told him that if he had vented his fury on another american, that guy would have quit and sued him :-p... it never even struck my friend to do that.

That's probably coz we have been trained from our childhood that the authority figure is seldom wrong and to blindly obey .. the manager's word is our command... he says jump and we ask how high :-p

Anyways after the training i told myself that now that i know the thinking of the americans and with added help from books i had read, i would also think like one atleast in office... use logic and not emotions. think of myself first..

But at the time of reckoning i found that i just could not think of my colleagues as just colleagues, an entity that sits in the cubicle next to me. They were people to me, people with lives, happiness, sorrows, insecurities, and No i cannot mind my own business. Not just coz i am curious as to what is happening with them but coz i am programmed to offer help when i see someone i know in distress. and i know i will get the same offer when i am in a soup. Yeah! i might have to work a bit later to make up for the time i spent with them, but i don't mind. If nothing else i got to know someone better and maybe made a friend.

I am not trying to say the american way is wrong, it suits them, so good for them! But to think like them is sooo difficult for us... and well, we have to, if we have to work with them.

On the flip side, we also become scape goats, most times agree when asked to do extra work and generally get trodden upon and generally taken advantaged of

But when all is said and done we still think with our heart and not our mind and guess what, in the long run, its ok :-) just means we go that extra mile rather than hurt some one and maybe get hurt ourselves in the process ... hmmm! guess thats what makes us humane and indians :-p

PS: Never been to US, don't even have an american friend... so everything i am saying about 'em is heresay.

PPS: My old counter was not free... so had to remove it ...boohoo :'-(


Vikram said...

Since software professionals work for American clients, the practical option appears to be think with mind, execute with heart.

aragorn said...

i think not all americans are like that... may be most of them... and its bcoz of the wide variety of cultures there... and its a weird blend of cultures frm around the world... i like the variation in them... but i personally hate the americans..:O ...:P

Sanjana said...

I somehow can not respect/admire people who would vote Bush in for a second term Aragon :-)

Naaz said...

Just an after thought buddy -

Americans WORK????
I thought we end up working for them; howvever small their tasks were.

Bottom line - they got a Mind to make us work!

varuag said...

i guess we need to adapt when we go there, fair enuf, what pisses me off is that we bend backwards even when they come to india. simple things like being made to wear formals with ties, need to speak only in english, shud always look like we are working.
i don't understand, we don't do all this st normal times, well this is how we have been working, this is how we get things done for them, it is for them to adapt to our culture when they are here. isn't it?

Sanjana said...

Just saw an article on this girl who has 96.something % in CBSE in 10th and a school in Delhi refused her admission for 11th coz her english was not upto the mark... how mean is that?