When I think of opposite cultures I think of American culture and Chinese culture (almost automatically). I do this because of the main cultural measure individualism vs. collectivism. This chapter dives in deeply on how the meshing of American cultures with Asian cultures effects those in the middle and the new culture they form and how they function in society, particularly in a society where extroverted qualities are rewarded.
As westerners we tend to think of leaders as persons who posses a balance of wisdom, knowledge, and outstanding communicative abilities. This chapter focuses in on how backwards that seems to the majority of Asian cultures. In Asian cultures, more qualities that are typically related to introverts are desired in friends and leaders. This is why many students from Asian cultures or Asian-American cultures have trouble in a seemingly extroverted dominated society. They are studious and driven, yet soft spoken. Quiet and respectful are words often used to describe the persons that Cain (the author) uses in this chapter.
What was most surprising to me, was that many Asians or Asian-Americans fall behind after graduation, as they are labeled as workers and less of leaders as they posses fewer of the soft skills. This chapter draws attention to a basic problem, culture is creating a barrier within another culture. One familiar with basic or general Asian cultural knowledge, knows that the because of the respect factor, Asians and Asian-Americans tend to be more reserved. They are reserved because this behavior is valued. Even if an individual is not naturally soft spoken, thoughtful, and slow to speak, they act the part when in situations just like westerners fake or exaggerate extroversion. This is because it is deeply valued and respected.
Although it is valued in the Asian cultural context, it is seemingly irrelevant in our North American context. I think that we need a mixture of true introverts, true extroverts, and those in between as leaders, but the culture reflects differently. One may adapt to the culture, as Cain brought to attention, when describing his experience at the “extroversion class”. However, complete adaption of the newly developed soft skills was not suggested by the instructor of the course.
The instructor introduced the author with a new concept, a concept that I believe can be paired with extroverted qualities to make a person successful in almost anything. This tool is “Quiet Persistence”. Mostly associated with Mother Theresa and Ghandi, this mode of peace and compromise shows a true strength, one that agitation cannot achieve. If westerners could adopt this soft skill, and easterners adopt western soft skills (I generalize cultural division for the sake of simplicity), then a more versatile and effective and individual can be. The power of compromise and quiet persistence are powerful tools that can be adopted into any culture and be useful at any moment, whether as a leader or a follower.
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