D. had to take this personality test for his admission in the EMBA-Global Asia program. Turns out, he is very quick to say yes and very low in emotionality. Big surprise! Not! I blame the latter on him being a archetypical guy who runs away as soon as he smells conflict and has no clue on how to express empathy. But high level of agreeableness and gregariousness, I believe are very cultural. In general, I always felt that Filipinos were extremely friendly people – reason why they excel in service-oriented industries.Of course, those are stereotypes and I don’t want to generalize an entire nation into a tiny little drawer, but it was quite interesting. The word “no” is very rarely used in the Philippines. I would hear “maybe”, “sure, I’ll try” and “of course” rather than a person admitting he/she can’t do it or can’t make it to a certain event. This is just my theory, but saying “yes” to all is probably a result to wanting to please people all the time (going back to being service-oriented, no?) and avoid disappointing; although by over-promising and under-delivering you are meant to disappoint at one point.
Another possible explanation, and here comes the big Western/Eastern clash, the respect (or sometimes fear) for authority. You don’t deny an authority figure, may it be elders, parents, bosses anything and in no way are you to disagree with whatever they have to say.
Again, I’m grossly exaggerating and stereotyping. But then again, where there is smoke, there’s probably a fire. Stereotypes have to be based on some sort of empirical data and even if not 100% accurate, there is truth behind them, so think about it… I see those stereotypes in my fiancé – he is the most confrontation-avoiding human being I have ever met. And I see them at work.
Harsh criticism is taken in as a personal attack, people are “scared” to voice opinion or even worse: disagree with superiors. Being driven and trying to get ahead is frowned upon, everyone always worried about stepping on someone else’s toes. Stereotypes exist for a reason, they are meant to be broken. Now while they definitely hold a lot of truth (and also have a positive spin to it, which I didn’t discuss here), I truly hope that my hypothetical kids will get a good mix of both my Western and D’s Easter stereotypes and turn out to be respectful, peace-seeking, yet strong-minded, ambitious. Best of both worlds.