Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

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When Political Proselytization and Multiculturalism Collide in Workplaces (and Elsewhere) & Related Thoughts – Part 1

Part 1 of 3

It’s been awhile since I posted “An OBVIOUS warning to political ideologues,” but I’ve decided to explain some of my views and experiences. My timing is terrible given the degenerating political discourse in the U.S., and I might be crazy to tarnish my clean “no politics” online image, but here we go. First, a story explaining my family’s culture of origin (Thai-Chinese):

One day I brought food from a new Thai restaurant I discovered near Sacramento, California for my mom to try. I’m not great at distinguishing the regional differences in Thai cuisine, but the food tasted “off” to my mom. She asked if the restaurant owner, whom I chatted with a few times by now, advertised which region of Thailand she was from. I responded, “No, but I can ask her next time.”

“No! Don’t!,” my mom yelled in alarm.

“Why not?,” I asked.

“That’s personal information,” my mom explained, “In Thai culture, you don’t ask this question of people you just met.” Further conversation with my mom revealed that asking where people lived and worked (though I already knew where the restaurant owner worked in this case) is off limits. Politics is also off limits. These are topics that are currently allowable in casual conversation for the average American (though past social norms dictated that politics and religion were off limits). A problem crops up when the average American doesn’t notice, or tries to change, the preferences of those who’re more culturally East Asian. Read more of this post

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