Singapore Expats Forum

At what level do you personally connect with Sinagporeans?

Discuss about the latest news & interesting topics, real life experience or other out of topic discussions with locals & expatriates in Singapore.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

At what level do you personally connect with Sinagporeans?

Postby JR8 » Fri, 04 May 2012 6:44 am

I'm in the midst of a complicated personal situation* this week where I am dealing with SGns on one side, and locals in Europe on another.

The situation and required solution are quite clear. The SGns seem to just kind of 'stand and stare' and I get no feeling that they ... not, empathise... um, but that they can see what is being done, what is required and why. Whereas the Europeans just want the facts, the plan, and are setting about dealing with it.

It's got me wondering to what extent expats can actually hope to connect on a personal level with people from such a different culture.

This is not a one-sided dig by any means, I understand that SGns have many beliefs and practices (the concept of face, superstitions of hungry ghosts lol, kiasuism etc) that are probably fathomless to most expats too.


It's kind of got me reflecting how superficial my connection is with most SGns that I know, even those I consider friends of years.

Just a random brain-dump... ...




* to be less vague family bereavement, but lets not go into that.

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 04 May 2012 8:46 am

Image

NorrinRadd
Regular
Regular
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun, 29 Apr 2012

Re: At what level do you personally connect with Sinagporean

Postby NorrinRadd » Fri, 04 May 2012 8:58 am

I think I know what you mean here. To answer puts one in the unpleasant position of having to generalise, which from what your wrote I believe is not your intention, and personally, is never mine. So I guess I'm about to contradict myself now. And like you I'm not interested in getting yet one more of those local / foreign internet spats in doing so by responding. (So if anyone misconstrues it that way don't expect me to get sucked into your game).

Like foreigners, locals come in many flavours, to use an analogy, and in my time here I've found more likely locals to have more predictable points of views and of limited range. So there's a generalisation.

But rather than use that, a real life example. I was going through a work situation years ago, and went to lunch to confide in a colleague who was a friend from the prior company we were both in, so we had a bond there. Had the bond not been there I wouldn't have confided in her, and I regarded her as a bright lady. Having said that, we'd never talked about serious personal things before. She's local and younger, I'm Western. She knew what I was going through in that new company, and she knew how well I was regarded at our last company.

At the end of giving her the colour of my situation, she responded, with a straight face, full of sincerity and enthusiasm, so banal a response that I was speechless. Waiting for the punchline.

I thought maybe I had missed or misunderstood something, so I kept listening. And she continued on, with well-intentioned trite platitudes. One after another. And just looked at her, stunned, but trying to be gracious and grateful.

The discomfort was only on my side, this was not a tense situation where both privately come to the same conclusion like someone breaking wind. But I had that ache of mistake one gets when divulging something deep and personal to someone who turns out to be frighteningly shallow and unequipped to deal with that level of discussion, a level that I know if I had done so with just about any Westerner, as I have many times before and since, it would have actually been a two-way and same level conversation.

After that lunch, I never spoke to her again. To do so would have just been a waste of time. I've had deeper conversations with nieces and nephews half her age.

That was in my early days here, and I've since had similar experiences of varying degrees. So in my actual experience, which transcends initial generalisations, there is a common thread.

Is that what you were referring to?

JR8 wrote:I'm in the midst of a complicated personal situation* this week where I am dealing with SGns on one side, and locals in Europe on another.

The situation and required solution are quite clear. The SGns seem to just kind of 'stand and stare' and I get no feeling that they ... not, empathise... um, but that they can see what is being done, what is required and why. Whereas the Europeans just want the facts, the plan, and are setting about dealing with it.

It's got me wondering to what extent expats can actually hope to connect on a personal level with people from such a different culture.

This is not a one-sided dig by any means, I understand that SGns have many beliefs and practices (the concept of face, superstitions of hungry ghosts lol, kiasuism etc) that are probably fathomless to most expats too.


It's kind of got me reflecting how superficial my connection is with most SGns that I know, even those I consider friends of years.

Just a random brain-dump... ...




* to be less vague family bereavement, but lets not go into that.
Last edited by NorrinRadd on Fri, 04 May 2012 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Saint
Director
Director
Posts: 3535
Joined: Thu, 16 Jun 2005
Location: The Juban Stand, Boat Quay
Contact:

Postby Saint » Fri, 04 May 2012 8:58 am

Marriage!

NorrinRadd
Regular
Regular
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun, 29 Apr 2012

Postby NorrinRadd » Fri, 04 May 2012 8:59 am

Just saw and like naka's response better, shorter and it says it all.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 04 May 2012 9:04 am

Thanks Nak, I know a bit heavy and emo, but that is honestly not why I mentioned it...

I am musing on a perception of 'cultural overide'. You think you are equals with your local friends, but then $hit hits the fan and they all stop and look at you for direction. It is a curious thing. Like suddenly I've become instant 'head of household', and everyone is deferring to me.


Don't worry, I'll go to bed soon... :) :wink:

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 04 May 2012 9:23 am

Yes Norrin Radd, somewhere along those tracks...

Something between a superficial 'western empathy' (taken on, rather like children take on US accents by watching too much TV), and an Asian inability to express or convey it.

User avatar
carteki
Editor
Editor
Posts: 1237
Joined: Mon, 28 Apr 2008
Location: Singapore
Contact:

Postby carteki » Fri, 04 May 2012 10:33 am

JR8 wrote:I am musing on a perception of 'cultural overide'. You think you are equals with your local friends, but then $hit hits the fan and they all stop and look at you for direction. It is a curious thing. Like suddenly I've become instant 'head of household', and everyone is deferring to me.


I think that you're possibly being too hard on yourself. Are they looking at you for direction because you're not Singaporean? or because you have a natural command ability and they're looking for someone else to deal with the icky issues. It doesn't mean that you're not connecting with them. You are, just not in a way that your background allows you to recognise as "connecting".

I don't know - and it would be nice to have a Singaporean pov - but is this how they would normally react to a situation like this amongst themselves? Does the feeling of being excluded because you're a foreigner have any basis. Try another cross-cultural example - a woman complaining that her husband never confides in her and she feels excluded. But what she doesn't know/realise is that the husband doesn't confide in anyone - its just how he is and not directed at anyone in particular.

User avatar
poodlek
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 878
Joined: Mon, 10 May 2010
Location: Taipa, Macau
Contact:

Re: At what level do you personally connect with Sinagporean

Postby poodlek » Fri, 04 May 2012 10:52 am

NorrinRadd wrote:At the end of giving her the colour of my situation, she responded, with a straight face, full of sincerity and enthusiasm, so banal a response that I was speechless. Waiting for the punchline.

I thought maybe I had missed or misunderstood something, so I kept listening. And she continued on, with well-intentioned trite platitudes. One after another. And just looked at her, stunned, but trying to be gracious and grateful.

The discomfort was only on my side, this was not a tense situation where both privately come to the same conclusion like someone breaking wind. But I had that ache of mistake one gets when divulging something deep and personal to someone who turns out to be frighteningly shallow and unequipped to deal with that level of discussion, a level that I know if I had done so with just about any Westerner, as I have many times before and since, it would have actually been a two-way and same level conversation.



I have been involved in a type of group meditation here that is more popular back home but upon arriving here was surprised and delighted to find a few practitioners and even a teacher. I jumped in with enthusiasm, ready to take on some deep spiritual philosophical talks and continue to delve deeply....but alas. I have had pretty much the same experience as Norrin. While the folks that are practicing this stuff deserve credit for attempting to go beyond the comfort zone of their culture, it's all very...."Level One" to me. I found myself getting frustrated and then just lost interest in it. I applaud them for taking the first steps in their quest, but they really have a long way to go.

I almost actually posted on this earlier this week as it's been on my mind. Perhaps I'll flesh out my thoughts a little more later on.

>>>Interestingly enough, the only locals I feel I've really connected with on a personal level have been professional artists. (Or "Artistes" as they say here :-D )

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 04 May 2012 10:58 am

It still floors me from where I'm from, I'm just some regular dude, albeit a little weird.

Here, it's like I'm the most eloquent, articulate and wise among certain groups. Either my wisdom got jacked up since I moved here or I'm a sage by comparison...

:roll:

User avatar
poodlek
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 878
Joined: Mon, 10 May 2010
Location: Taipa, Macau
Contact:

Postby poodlek » Fri, 04 May 2012 11:47 am

nakatago wrote:It still floors me from where I'm from, I'm just some regular dude, albeit a little weird.

Here, it's like I'm the most eloquent, articulate and wise among certain groups. Either my wisdom got jacked up since I moved here or I'm a sage by comparison...

:roll:


Back where I'm from, Philippinos are some of the most genuinely approachable folks, if I were to make a generalization about an entire group of people. I think that open, hospitable attitude makes it a lot easier for the ones with more than half a brain to become fairly wise. :-)

morenangpinay
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 890
Joined: Mon, 02 Mar 2009

Postby morenangpinay » Fri, 04 May 2012 11:48 am

In my observation because of the sanitized environment, they have been insulated and deprived of some life experiences which should have given them more growth emotionally. If they didn’t experience any hardship or problems it somehow affects their ability to connect with people or to accept and react to situations which are challenging. Maybe they have never felt the need to relate to people before because everything they need is already given.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 35178
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 04 May 2012 12:11 pm

And that strikes a chord with me as well. Pertaining to Singaporeans specifically, that is. It's one that I hark back to time and again, about the "cocoon" that Singaporeans live in. They are detached from reality, as they have never been exposed to the reality the rest of the world lives in. I think that is also why so many who immigrate end up back in Singapore within 10 years as well.

JR8, I can understand where you are coming from. My FiL (in Law mind you) passed away 10 years ago. Somehow, I ended up the Patriarch of the family! While I'm usually consulted and somehow expected to always be able to come up with the answers/ways to accomplish, I wish they would realize I'm not a bank! :x

But there is something that is beyond the comprehension of westerners in the psyche of the Asian mindset. Likewise, there are some things that they will never understand either.
Last edited by sundaymorningstaple on Fri, 04 May 2012 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

local lad
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 166
Joined: Tue, 13 Sep 2005

Postby local lad » Fri, 04 May 2012 12:12 pm

morenangpinay wrote:In my observation because of the sanitized environment, they have been insulated and deprived of some life experiences which should have given them more growth emotionally. If they didn’t experience any hardship or problems it somehow affects their ability to connect with people or to accept and react to situations which are challenging. Maybe they have never felt the need to relate to people before because everything they need is already given.


Most SGns I know do not have this 'worldly knowledge' because they have not experienced it in their lives. Hence, their experiences are too limited to give advice on subjects they least know about. Therefore, explained the 'stand and stare'. How articulate a person gets depends on how well the person is able to understand and aware of his/her surroundings. If the person is well-traveled , that person would definitely be in a better position to given his/her thoughts of matters of concern.

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 04 May 2012 12:12 pm

poodlek wrote:
nakatago wrote:It still floors me from where I'm from, I'm just some regular dude, albeit a little weird.

Here, it's like I'm the most eloquent, articulate and wise among certain groups. Either my wisdom got jacked up since I moved here or I'm a sage by comparison...

:roll:


Back where I'm from, Philippinos are some of the most genuinely approachable folks, if I were to make a generalization about an entire group of people. I think that open, hospitable attitude makes it a lot easier for the ones with more than half a brain to become fairly wise. :-)


I'm antisocial by Filipino standards (the weird part). :P

local lad wrote:
morenangpinay wrote:In my observation because of the sanitized environment, they have been insulated and deprived of some life experiences which should have given them more growth emotionally. If they didn’t experience any hardship or problems it somehow affects their ability to connect with people or to accept and react to situations which are challenging. Maybe they have never felt the need to relate to people before because everything they need is already given.


Most SGns I know do not have this 'worldly knowledge' because they have not experienced it in their lives. Hence, their experiences are too limited to give advice on subjects they least know about. Therefore, explained the 'stand and stare'. How articulate a person gets depends on how well the person is able to understand and aware of his/her surroundings. If the person is well-traveled , that person would definitely be in a better position to given his/her thoughts of matters of concern.


sundaymorningstaple wrote:And that strikes a chord with me as well. Pertaining to Singaporeans specifically, that is. It's one that I hark back to time and again, about the "cocoon" that Singaporeans live in. They are detached from reality, as they have never been exposed to the reality the rest of the world lives in. I think that is also why so many who immigrate end up back in Singapore within 10 years as well.


In retrospect, this may be it...and travelling as tourists to touristy places do not count.


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “General Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests