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SGns being shy

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JR8
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SGns being shy

Postby JR8 » Wed, 06 Jul 2011 6:25 pm

I'm trying to understand something with regards to SGns, but I'm have difficulty settling on the scope of the question. I'll try and boil it down...

In my experience SGns that I know are by and large not very good at conversation. The tend to not express opinions on for example current affairs and instead practice 'small-talk'. This is not necessarily a criticism (though I do find it boring) as it seems to just be a cultural way.

So I am used to being in the company of SGns who do not communicate in any particularly meaningful way.

I am also used to being in a group and a person not speaking to me directly, but responding to a comment of mine by making their point to a local friend of theirs.

At this point you will see that I think there is some kind of inherent cultural shyness.

Now in the space of two days, I have my sister-in-law saying she can't visit my parents with my wife because she is shy (she is 40 odd years old). And another relative saying she's hesitant about going out with my wife's colleagues when she comes and stays because she's shy.

WTF is wrong with these people? Or is this a cultural norm?

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Postby Mad Scientist » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 4:34 am

I can answer you this

Malays are traditionally shy and polite race. When they converse, it is always mentioned in a "third person " way. There will never be "In your face" like us i.e be upfront.
Even if they see something is not right, the comment will be more subtle and unnoticeable to the offending person especially if you are Caucasian.
The only thing you must be aware of is not to touch on subject of Islam which will make defend in arms.
My neighbour in Indonesia was the same. We did not know that they do not like what we did, for over 10 years, until they moved out. I tend to park my car close to their driveway but not blocking it . It was unintentional as I was always coming and going but little did I realised that they do not like it. I told them , you can always tell me as it was my fault. I apologised to them for the inconveniences but that made them more recluse and till now has not spoken to us. Strange but this is how they behave
The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.Yahoo !!!

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Postby JR8 » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 4:51 am

Hmmm thanks MS, interesting.

(Though my MIL comes out with some pretty jaw-droppingly blunt statements :o )

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Postby local lad » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 9:21 am

As a local, I can only speak for myself. Generally, SGns do not like to be confrontational unless they feel strongly about it. Even so, some choose to ignore it for fear of getting themselves into the limelight ( with all the online media and video, it is easy to be caught in a video or picture and posted in the internet ). Opinions are expressed as an anonymous guest in some online discussions. Most of them would not like to speak 'in your face' but rather behind your back. Hence, it is quite difficult to find out the problem ( their problems ) with you.

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Postby nakatago » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 9:34 am

local lad wrote:As a local, I can only speak for myself. Generally, SGns do not like to be confrontational unless they feel strongly about it. Even so, some choose to ignore it for fear of getting themselves into the limelight ( with all the online media and video, it is easy to be caught in a video or picture and posted in the internet ). Opinions are expressed as an anonymous guest in some online discussions. Most of them would not like to speak 'in your face' but rather behind your back. Hence, it is quite difficult to find out the problem ( their problems ) with you.


Actually, for most South East Asians. It's about saving face, trying to "preserve social harmony" and the concept of shame...

DISCLAIMER: not a socioanthropologist but rather a SEAsian.

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Postby JayCee » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 9:55 am

local lad wrote:As a local, I can only speak for myself. Generally, SGns do not like to be confrontational unless they feel strongly about it. Even so, some choose to ignore it for fear of getting themselves into the limelight ( with all the online media and video, it is easy to be caught in a video or picture and posted in the internet ). Opinions are expressed as an anonymous guest in some online discussions. Most of them would not like to speak 'in your face' but rather behind your back. Hence, it is quite difficult to find out the problem ( their problems ) with you.


So Singaporeans are a bunch of back-stabbers, is what you're basically saying?
I HAVE MASTERS!

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Postby nakatago » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:07 am

JayCee wrote:
local lad wrote:As a local, I can only speak for myself. Generally, SGns do not like to be confrontational unless they feel strongly about it. Even so, some choose to ignore it for fear of getting themselves into the limelight ( with all the online media and video, it is easy to be caught in a video or picture and posted in the internet ). Opinions are expressed as an anonymous guest in some online discussions. Most of them would not like to speak 'in your face' but rather behind your back. Hence, it is quite difficult to find out the problem ( their problems ) with you.


So Singaporeans are a bunch of back-stabbers, is what you're basically saying?


[-X

:cool:

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:27 am

They most definitely have a passive-aggressive nature. And yeah, anonymous online and office political smear campaigns would seem to hold a very near & dear spot in their hearts. [-(

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Postby nakatago » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:38 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:They most definitely have a passive-aggressive nature.


...like that neighbor we used to have who'd rather call the cops and wait for them to come than take three steps to our door and knock.

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Re: SGns being shy

Postby Wind In My Hair » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 1:11 pm

JR8 wrote:In my experience SGns that I know are by and large not very good at conversation. The tend to not express opinions on for example current affairs and instead practice 'small-talk'. This is not necessarily a criticism (though I do find it boring) as it seems to just be a cultural way.

So I am used to being in the company of SGns who do not communicate in any particularly meaningful way.

Just a general observation that western cultures are more issue-focused whilst Asian cultures are more relationship-focused. You may find discussing issues more meaningful, but others may find that superficial and want to suss you out as a person, hence the 'small talk'.

Having said that, small talk bores me too and lately I just smile and keep quiet rather than partake in it.

JR8 wrote:I am also used to being in a group and a person not speaking to me directly, but responding to a comment of mine by making their point to a local friend of theirs.

Yes this is rather rude, and also the clearest sign that you have not qualified as 'one of us' and are treated as an outsider.

JR8 wrote:Now in the space of two days, I have my sister-in-law saying she can't visit my parents with my wife because she is shy (she is 40 odd years old). And another relative saying she's hesitant about going out with my wife's colleagues when she comes and stays because she's shy.

WTF is wrong with these people? Or is this a cultural norm?

I agree with MS that the Malay culture is somewhat separate from the rest. Even among Singaporeans, the Malays tend to keep to themselves (this is a generalisation and LKY got into trouble and had to apologise for saying bluntly that they need to integrate more with society).

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Re: SGns being shy

Postby carteki » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 1:35 pm

Wind In My Hair wrote:... and LKY got into trouble and had to apologise for saying bluntly that they need to integrate more with society).


Which makes it even more "insensitive" given the apparent cultural bias towards not being blunt by the non-Malay Singaporeans as discussed above.



am I being pc enough here?

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Re: SGns being shy

Postby Wind In My Hair » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 1:55 pm

carteki wrote:
Wind In My Hair wrote:... and LKY got into trouble and had to apologise for saying bluntly that they need to integrate more with society).


Which makes it even more "insensitive" given the apparent cultural bias towards not being blunt by the non-Malay Singaporeans as discussed above.

am I being pc enough here?


Yes, and therefore JR8 might find LKY an interesting conversationalist as he addresses the issues directly, and the afore-mentioned small-talking Singaporeans find JR8 insensitive for bluntly discussing such an issue.

am I being non-pc enough here?

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Postby the lynx » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 5:26 pm

nakatago wrote:
local lad wrote:As a local, I can only speak for myself. Generally, SGns do not like to be confrontational unless they feel strongly about it. Even so, some choose to ignore it for fear of getting themselves into the limelight ( with all the online media and video, it is easy to be caught in a video or picture and posted in the internet ). Opinions are expressed as an anonymous guest in some online discussions. Most of them would not like to speak 'in your face' but rather behind your back. Hence, it is quite difficult to find out the problem ( their problems ) with you.


Actually, for most South East Asians. It's about saving face, trying to "preserve social harmony" and the concept of shame...

DISCLAIMER: not a socioanthropologist but rather a SEAsian.


I actually agree with the above. All in the name of avoiding potential embarrassment...

:-|

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Postby ex-pat » Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:45 pm

nakatago wrote:
sundaymorningstaple wrote:They most definitely have a passive-aggressive nature.


...like that neighbor we used to have who'd rather call the cops and wait for them to come than take three steps to our door and knock.



.... And they think cops are messengers ....and a shock absorber!

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 08 Jul 2011 12:04 am

Thanks for all the replies, interesting!

Just to clarify one point that one or two might not quite have understood...

'JR8 wrote:
I am also used to being in a group and a person not speaking to me directly, but responding to a comment of mine by making their point to a local friend of theirs.'



The above 'responding via someone else', would be with a group of friends/relatives at a table, or in a room, i.e. right in front of me. I did not mean to imply over e-mail or Facebook or such. I think that makes it a little clearer why I find it so odd.

Maybe small-talk is to suss people out? Though quite how someone say making a general comment 'Wah dis curry-puff damn sedap lah!' is meant to help divine my character I don't know :)

The funny thing, my MIL is the most gregarious of all my in-laws. It is the younger ones that have more reticence. And the two in question are not shy retiring scarfies who have never been exposed to mat sallehs. One has worked long-term in a British MNC, the other has been shacked up with FT-matsalls for a couple of years now and moved to Germany with one around new year.

Interesting the comment about issue-based discussion, and relationship- based discussion. I believe that this has some parallel with the western idea of different approaches in conversation between the sexes.

Maybe it just boils down to not wishing to potentially cause conflict or distance in a relationship by expressing an opinion. Maybe you guarantee your place on the inside of 'the clan' by not having opinions?


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