Attitude and “Face Value”

No, the above subhead is neither a mini exam for typists nor a test for proofreaders. I just wanted to signal the topic of this particular issue of this blog.

First let me acknowledge the fact that in the behavioral sciences there are about a dozen definitions of “attitude”. Which hints that we are dealing with a complex subject. Please allow me to say that I’m not about to write a dissertation on attitude. I’m simply referring to the more mundane meaning, that is, a pre-set or predisposed mental orientation towards a certain idea, person or thing. It’s usually very difficult, if not impossible, to change an attitude (as confirmed by years of scientific research).

For example, take the typical Filipino attitude towards disagreement or dissent. Typically, when a Filipino disagrees with another, one of them would automatically assume that he or she is disliked or disapproved of (especially, if the disagreement occurred in public) by the one who expressed dissent or disagreement. Often, the result is regrettable because what might have started as a discussion degenerates into an emotional argument in which heat, instead of light, tends to be maximized. This tendency may be partially explained by the cultural value that is called “Pakikisama”. I call it the “SIR” value, that is, the “Smooth Interpersonal Relationship” value. This is related to a more or less Asian cultural value called “Face Value”. I was brought up to behave in such a way that my behavior should be such that no one would “lose face” on account of what I do or say, especially in public. This is what’s behind the often cited Asian behavioral tendency labeled as “non-assertiveness”.

And, therefore lack of aptitude for leadership…

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