Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"A dragon floundering in shallow water is teased by the shrimps" Part 4 / Final

(English translation of October 9th posting)

In Part 3 of this Asian Dragon story, my friend was adamant about adjusting or adapting to the western culture. The internal conflict appears to be at the rational and emotional front. Rationally, he understands the urgent need to resolve his adjustment problem and to better understand the requirements of the workplace in this western society. Emotionally, however, his own ethnic identity, ego/pride, and other background factors just would not allow him to give up so easily, in whole or in part, the way he was brought up, his own personal values/believes and the very concept of who he really is.

Disconnection between two realities: There are roughly two types of reality - subjective and objective (similar to subjective and objective dangers in mountaineering terms). The former is obviously a result of personal thinking, perspectives, and understanding while the latter is the objective environment, natural and without bias. Without passing judgment, I can accept the fact that a person's perception is his/her own reality and that my friend's reality is what he sees with his own eyes. However, if there is a significant discrepancy between his subjective reality and what really is happening at his workplace, then there is a disconnection. I told my friends: "I am not suggesting that you should turn yourself into a half-westerner, and for that matter, a half-Asian or half of anyone. I just would like you to understand the old saying: When one enters a country, one asks about the laws (what are allowed and disallowed); and when one enters a region/village, one asks about the local traditions (so you will not offend the locals). You are now in Canada where the life style, the thinking processes and work environment are very different from those on the other side of the big pond (Pacific Ocean). However, a person may understand and still does not want to accept the reality. I will be frank: Reminiscing too often the glorious days of "golden scepter and iron horses" and indulging in heroic stories of yesteryears usually do not help new immigrant workers move from the past into the future. The objective environment is constantly changing outside of our subjective reality. The needs of our family are changing. We are growing old as we speak. The time machine is moving forward regardless of our glorious and heroic past. If we do not learn to become adaptable and flexible (within limits of course), the disconnection between the two realities will eventually bring about our career demise. My suggestion is for you to find a good balance between your rational and emotional needs. Do what you can within your limits to improve yourself at work. Plant your foot firmly on the ground and face the facts and reality. Learn from others their strengths to overcome your shortcomings. And, while recognizing that the past is a part of your life from which you learn and draw experience, you must remind yourself too that the future is also there within your grasp."

My friend reacted positively and said: "What you just said make sense. Perhaps I have my feet planted on two sampans (straddling the fence) and my heart un-settled. For too long, I have made no commitments to either go or stay. I know I can change if I am willing and if I put my mind to it. The decision would have been much easier if I were single without my wife and son. At this juncture, I still need to digest what we have talked about, consult with my family, and then make a decision regarding my career. I really appreciate your advice and your taking the time to coach me."

Epilogue: My friend fully understands that my role as volunteer career coach is really just that, to provide suggestions and advice. He still has the full responsibility, to himself, his family and the society, of making the final decisions and facing the consequences of such decisions. The 4-part series "A dragon floundering in shallow water is teased by the shrimps" is just a simple story reflecting on the expectations, conflicts and thinking of a new immigrant worker in the Canadian workplace. Now, whether my Asian dragon friend will eventually go back into deeper water, stay in the shallow pond, or morph himself from an Asian dragon into a local dragon, I will not know for several more years.



Kineyi said...

Your article recalled my study in Group and interpersonal communication. hahaha
Have you read these books?

微豆 said...

Hi Kineyi: I have not taken any study or read much on the subject. The article is actually based on my personal experience from working with people. I visited the website you provided - it's great !!! The books on cultural diversity, ethics, interpersonal communication in the workplace, etc are just what one needs to read up on. Let me know if you have some more. Thanks !!

Kineyi said...

Here you are:
The following websites can be served as quick reference

微豆 said...

Kineyi: I visited the two websites you had given me and found that they just house an amazing amount of reference information. I have the web addresses marked on my favorite list. Thank you so much !!

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