Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another brick in the wall...


I was watching the video of an all-hands meeting in the US office of our company, and noticed that at the end of the talk people are usually falling over each other to ask questions. I couldn't help contrast that with our own gatherings of that sort. My current work -place is not so bad, but everywhere else I've worked, people wouldn't speak up if their moms were held at ransom. I wonder why we like to fly so low. Why is there such a social pressure against making yourself heard in public? Surely it must be cultural. The education system must be at fault too. (I know I'm over-concluding a bit here, but what the hell, It's my blog) You don't ever hear teachers encouraging the kids to have critical reasoning and independence. This little kid's project offered a glimpse of the coercive persuasion that he must have surely gone through. This guy really believes that "Talking less in class" is the hallmark of a good student. Meanwhile I'm sure the teacher got through her workday with the fewest challenges.

4 comments:

Sats said...

:) i totally agree with you about it being cultural. As a child every kid's favourite word is "why" - somewhere along the years we forget it right? Or we are made to forget it!!

I am reading Nandan Nilekani's book. In one place he compares the govt office culture with corporates. Says, in govt offices, 'dont rock the boat' and 'compliance' is the default code of conduct. In the corporate world people are encouraged to question status quo etc.

I feel that overall the govt office culture is representative of our society - our society tends to respect 'compliance' more than 'questioning.' This to me is one reason why many people find 'not speaking up' the right thing to do. This is why I think we do not clarify, ask 'why' ...

directions said...

I think the lack of questions is a very basic lack of interest in work. Ask questions=more work and maybe god forbid overtime.
Whetehr it be US or India, questions usually lead to more work :D
But generally, it took me a while of bieng a grad student to stop getting "does not speak up in class" in my evaluations.

Kavs said...

Hi D, it's worse with women. I am frustrated when in meetings organized for women employees to address their issues, nobody asks a question! As an organizer I wonder if all these "issues" were a figment of my imagination.

Deppe said...

@Sats: Yeah! I hate it that we glorify that inertia as "resilience".

@Directions: You are mostly right. But there are cases when you can avoid yourself a lot of work if you just ask the right people the right questions too, no?

@Kavs: I've seen that trend too. Was too scared to say it.