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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Rudeness or culture?

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Author Topic: Rudeness or culture?
Mynnion
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I grew up in the northeast in a family where arguments are the way we learn to express ourselves. We learn early to put on our thick skins and to evaluate whether offense is meant when the words get less than complimentary and the volume increases. I personally see very few posts here that I would consider to cross that line.

Saying this I recognize that culture plays a huge role in how we interpret comments etc.

I had a professor in Virginia where I went to school who was asked to determine why a newly acquired company in South Carolina was failing. The product was great and the workers had historically had a strong productivity history. It turned out that the employees could not understand why their new managers from Boston were always angry and hated them. They stated that they were always being yelled at and interrupted. When the managers were presented with this information they were shocked. It turns out that what is normal conversation and animation in Boston is not viewed that way in the South.

I use this example to pose the question, Were the workers at fault, the managers, or both? When we relate, debate, share, speak our mind here at Ornery who is responsible for the disagreements that require MOD intervention. I enjoy reading here because I tend to be a little lazy when it comes to in depth study on issues I am interested in. Since my views are a confused mix of "Liberal" and "Conservative" (what ever they are) I appreciate the insights of those better informed than myself. As adults we should be willing to take responsibility that what we write is not purposely hostile and/or offensive. On the flip side we should be adult enough to recognize that a poster that disagrees with something we write is not attacking us personally (usually)so taking offense is a waste of our emotional energy.

I am aware that there is a very small number who are purposely abusive and the best policy should be to ignore them completely.

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Pete at Home
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I'd always thought that there was near worldwide consensus that "normal conversation and animation in Boston" and in New York is, well, rude. It's certainly understood in the Las Vegas legal community that you don't go to work for a New England lawyer unless you really dig 14 hour work days and continual verbal abuse.
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NobleHunter
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For your example, the managers were responsible. Not "at fault," but responsible. Since their communications affected their productivity, they had a responsibility to find what the problem was and fix it. Also, variances in communication styles is a known problem in management, though I'm suprised it was so extreme over a relatively short distance. I'll have to remember that since we work with a group near Boston.

In general, I think both parties in communication should be aware of errors in perception. The first onus, however, lies on the person who initiates conversation since they have the least information and form the foundation for further discussion. A bad start tends toward a bad end. This does not absolve following participants from reflecting on the communication and taking care to avoid exacerbating the problem.

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Mynnion
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Pete-
quote:
I'd always thought that there was near worldwide consensus that "normal conversation and animation in Boston" and in New York is, well, rude. It's certainly understood in the Las Vegas legal community that you don't go to work for a New England lawyer unless you really dig 14 hour work days and continual verbal abuse.
Not verbal abuse. Loving communication. [Wink]
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Wayward Son
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quote:
When we relate, debate, share, speak our mind here at Ornery who is responsible for the disagreements that require MOD intervention.
We are each responsible if we do not communicate in the manner that our host requests.

Mr. Card created this site, and asked the participants to follow his rules. So we are obliged to do so or to refrain from posting. It is up to each of us to follow the rules as Mr. Card envisions them.

The Mod only helps clarify (and enforce) Mr. Card's rules.

It's not whether we should be polite as a Bostoner is, or as a Southerner, or as a Conservative or a Liberal. We should be polite as our host asks us to be. That's the standard.

It's the only polite thing to do. [Smile]

[ August 21, 2012, 03:53 PM: Message edited by: Wayward Son ]

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scifibum
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The reminder from OSC and this topic are pretty timely. However, I sometimes feel like the only threads with any momentum include a lot of deliberately hostile treatment. I hope that hasn't become so endemic to the board culture that the choices are between incivility and drastic attrition of activity.
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Mynnion
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Wayward
quote:
When we relate, debate, share, speak our mind here at Ornery who is responsible for the disagreements that require MOD intervention.

We are each responsible if we do not communicate in the manner that our host requests.

Mr. Card created this site, and asked the participants to follow his rules. So we are obliged to do so or to refrain from posting. It is up to each of us to follow the rules as Mr. Card envisions them.

The Mod only helps clarify (and enforce) Mr. Card's rules.

It's not whether we should be polite as a Bostoner is, or as a Southerner, or as a Conservative or a Liberal. We should be polite as our host asks us to be. That's the standard.

It's the only polite thing to do. [Smile]

I agree with you but my question is where that point is drawn may be interpreted differently between different people. The shift to rude is generally the result of an individual feeling disparaged by the response of someone with differing views. That starts a chain reaction.

So I guess the point I am trying to make is that responding politely to perceived offense is also critical if we want to play nice. [Smile]

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KidTokyo
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I grew up near Boston, but my mother came from the deep South, where her entire extended family still lives. Needless to say, I was a confused child. Then again, it perhaps explains the relative ease with which I transition between New York City and rural Japan in the present.

The "rudeness" of Bostonians and New Yorkers is not perceived as rudeness by Bostonians and New Yorkers. Quite the opposite, calling someone a "bastard" or a "filthy whore" is taken as a term of endearment. "Your mom" jokes are how Boston-area teens bond with one another. Cynicism and edginess are socially comforting. It makes no sense to anyone else, I'm sure, but insulting people and yelling at them is how you show someone you're comfortable around them and that you trust and respect them. Treating someone as "delicate" is actually more of an insult.

Perhaps the most extreme examples can be found in Boston-area construction sites...back when I did some manual labor in MA, I learned that construction foremen routinely appear to be on the verge of getting into brawls with their coworkers. I firmly believe that these are the very people who invented all the curse words we now use. I witnessed whole new forms of vulgarity being invented right in front of me. I though I would have to flee imminent carnage...but, no, it was all friendly conversation between pals.

The rest of the world does not work this way. When I lived for 3 years in the SF Bay Area, it was hard for me to adjust to the fact that everyone was very sensitive and that verbal irony was essentially unknown. People got upset at (from my perspective) seemingly trivial things.

I don't think these things are anyone's "fault." They're the differences that make life interesting. But I do think that when you're the foreigner, it is your responsibility to take the initiative and learn the local expectations.

[ August 21, 2012, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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AI Wessex
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I was raised in New Jersey (Sopranos country) and worked as a laborer, courier and warehouse gofer in Newark for several years as a teenager. Now I live in the midwest and have been guarding my tongue for almost 40 years! What's even worse is that my *daughters* are born midwesterners and learned all their manners out here. I can't believe how nice they are! Fugedaboudit!
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Pete at Home
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I wonder how westerners and midwestern managers are perceived when they run things in Yankeelandia. Or does that simply not happen?
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threads
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The manager is mostly at fault. I work in a company with offices on both the west and east coast and I've encountered no notable differences in interacting with teams on either coast (this is despite there being a notable difference between east and west coast culture in general). Managers shouldn't normally yell at workers and criticism should normally be targeted at what was done (ex: 'X' was a mistake) and not at an individual (ex: you are incompetent).

KidTokyo, I live in the Bay Area now and I see verbal irony all the time! Maybe we are relying too much on personal experience here...

I think that cultural differences tend to get pushed to the background when you interact with smart people.

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kmbboots
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I am generally considered polite at home (Chicago area). I say "please" and "thank you", give up my seat on the bus, smile at strangers, and so forth. I lived in South Carolina for a year and was quite often considered rude for interrupting when I thought that someone had finished speaking. The pace of conversation was so different and so much slower that I never did get the hang of it.
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AI Wessex
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[kmbboots:] "I lived in South Carolina for a year and was quite often considered rude for interrupting when I thought that someone had finished speaking."

Don't let it trouble you, bless your heart.

[threads:] "The manager is mostly at fault. I work in a company with offices on both the west and east coast and I've encountered no notable differences in interacting with teams on either coast (this is despite there being a notable difference between east and west coast culture in general)."

There are different kinds of companies with different management "oversight" cultures. I've worked in startups (aggressive but friendly -- building teams and cultivating brutal work ethic), established software companies (process focused with rewards and punishments), and consulted for numerous consulting groups (enthusiastic, individualistic co-responsible environment - "Wow, nice job!").

When the company at the top of the thread was bought, what was the new management's objective? Likely it wasn't to keep the same-old same-old going forever, since you said that the old company was failing. Perhaps the new management team's job was to shake things up and help remake the company without being overtly threatening. I've had to do that once or twice at companies in a rebuilding phase, myself. Dunno, just guessing...

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
[kmbboots:] "I lived in South Carolina for a year and was quite often considered rude for interrupting when I thought that someone had finished speaking."

Don't let it trouble you, bless your heart.


Thanks. I did but have come to realize that nothing I did compared to the rudeness of the sneaky slights and honey-coated barbs that were aimed at me because I was an outsider.
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Pete at Home
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Nod. I despise hostility and outright sadism cloaked in politeness. People need to distinguish cruelty from mere incivility.
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Pete at Home
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I just spent 10 days in Georgia and was surprised at how much I enjoyed interactions with locals. I don't understand though why Southern women are easier to understand than Southern men. Are there different accents for each gender?
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