In this episode, we evaluated how Asians work and perceived in the professional environment both from the US and from the UK.
Initially, I spoke with Jatin Anand from the Asian Professional Facebook Group in the UK, and he noticed these couple of things among the professional Asians in the workplace.
Asians do not take initiatives at workspace -> perceived lack of leadership skills
The Asian culture can describe the perceived lack of taking initiatives in not trying to disrupt harmony in a group setting. By taking actions, it creates conflicts. Asians, for most, are known to be some of the most passive-aggressive people in the world. For example, they would be super friendly to you, but once you leave, they would start to complain about you to their close confidants. However, that is not wrong from their perspectives as is expected. They have the understanding that is what will not be surprised if that ever comes up. However, that can create problems. Because there is a perception that someone who can confidently voice their opinions (whether right or wrong) is perceived to have strong leadership skills. Note some solutions below.
- Enlist the help of your manager or co-worker to see what type of leadership is prized at this organization.
- Adapt the Asian upbringings to the prized leadership style.
The above can mean asking for if people need help with work first instead of jumping straight into I will handle that.
Asians don’t give many opinions and reluctant to speak up in group meetings -> cultural issues
Similar to the above in not disrupting the current harmony within the group. One way to counteract this perception of having a lack of opinions and trying to speak up can be done in many ways. Here are some of the ways that one can do to establish their presence in the workspace
- Before the meeting, make a list of things you want to cover and make an attempt to say one of the items at the conference.
- Before the meeting, discuss some of the things you have in mind individually, then have them help prompt you in giving your ideas.
Note: There is sometimes a danger with the second approach as there are people who will take your ideas as your own.
Asians lack perceived self-confidence
In Western society, sometimes humbleness is seen to be a lack of confidence. One of the core attributes of Asian culture is about being humble. For example, when complimented, it is expected to demote yourself to appear modest. When you are praised that you are smart, it is likely to respond with something along the lines of “oh I am not that smart, see all these flaws, etc.”. Alternatively, it is common to attribute the success not of your own accord but by environmental circumstances. That can easily be perceived, by Western cultural values, to be negative and to lack self-confidence. What that means is that the person is incapable.
The workplace needs to do a lot of work to create an environment for that person to succeed. That belittled the hard work and doing whatever it takes to make things work is at the core of Asian culture. One of the ways, although it will be difficult, is to drop the association with environmental influences. Those with Asian upbringings might have to think a bit more proudly (subject to interpretation) to get perceived as confident. After that, when going back to Asia for personal/professional settings to do a context switch.