Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sensitive Business

The number of Americans filing new weekly claims for jobless benefits jumped unexpectedly to 500,000, the highest level in nine months, the government said Thursday, threatening recovery hopes. The soaring number “compels us to act,” President Barack Obama said, demanding lawmakers pass a stalled bill that will end taxes on key investments in small businesses, which create two of every three new jobs in the country. (
Politics and overall views aside, this is something that I have to be really sensitive about especially in my position and where I am now.

Before flying out to the States for business training, I am prepared for the level of sensitivity and understanding that I would have to uphold given the circumstances. An Asian woman, practically young for her position, in a sea of experienced, older and traditional American professionals, is trying her best to study the process to migrate it back to her home country. She ultimately depends on the donor country to teach her everything and assist her in what she needs while she's there. She is courteous and has developed connections with some new colleagues. Though that may be the case, she never mixes her personal views nor asks for their personal views on anything. She doesn't want to open unnecessary spaces for uncomfortable topics . What she came here for is to learn and her presence was driven by purely business needs and nothing more.

But not all people think like her especially those who will be inconvenienced by her presence. Her presence reminds them that they might not have their jobs next month. Her presence reminds them how traditional business is going to be replaced by a global one. Her presence reminds them of the rising unemployment news and how their superpower era and egos are dying. Just like any other human being, they have their own territories to protect. The primal instinct that we have inherited will always be to protect what is ours. Hesitation and hostility are expected from a person, who has a job that he is very passionate about and that pays for his needs, but is tasked to turnover and pass the torch to someone else, a complete stranger, whether he has accepted it or not.

I could fully understand the pain that's why I have to be the sensitive one and just shut up if I hear awkward comments that get steamed out of nowhere. It is hard in their position to give up something they love to a complete stranger. The threat of losing something that could inevitably change their lives forever is hard and scary. I know I would've felt the same thing so I allowed myself to be the punching bag at least for their frustrations and emotions. Though it is not my job to be a saint. In fact I could complain, throw back smart rebuttals in conversation, ignore their presence and be difficult, but I don't want to feel miserable. I don't want to retaliate because this is not a battle worth fighting for. In fact, there is no battle. It's a purely strategic business decision and we are players in that field that we have proven to be uncertain. I understand and I accept the depression and pain they feel. I don't hold it against them. Though I am not the one to blame for their emotions, but I won't react if they give me a shot. I know better and I understand my position and theirs, which reaches a precarious balance of acceptance and letting go.

I've had bad experiences while I'm here, but it's nothing compared to the good ones that I will highlight. I applaud colleagues here who have reached out, who understood the call of globalization. I appreciate the forward thinkers, who though silently hurt, still share a smile with me. I appreciate the patient colleagues of mine who impart their knowledge and time to teach me. It's not their job to be patient and nice, but some of them are and I'm grateful. In the end, it's harder to understand why people are strong and explain where they get their strengths than it is to understand their weaknesses and why they falter.

In a world of suits and businesses, emotions are expected to be non-existent. But those who are wearing suits and run the businesses are humans, who harbor certain types of emotions. Happiness, Content, Depression, Anger, Disappointments. It's not about being able to feel it, it's how we manage it and how we mold those emotions in a business perspective. When we are depressed, we don't cry while talking to clients. When we get angry, we don't want to swear and lash at a target's well being. When we become happy and content, we don't want to boast. Business, despite most people think, is a playground to be sensitive.

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