Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cultural Obsessions

I read somewhere on travel.stackexchange that one of the things to do to learn about someone's culture is asking them what their mom used to cook for breakfast. I can't find the link right now.

A much better thing to ask is to ask what a person's culture is obsessive about. For example,

  • Easter Islanders obsessed about building big stone bodies.
  • The Yapese obsessed about stone money.
  • The Indo-Aryans were obsessed about cows.
  • Central Asian tribes in the times of Changez Khan were obsessed with raiding India, China and Persia.
  • Present urban folk in any place are obsessed about vacations :-)

These are just examples. Presently, in the post-modern age of specialization, people are too varied to have cultural obsessions. But this is not entirely true. Abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence.

That said, if you ever ask someone about any obsession of their culture, make sure you do that tactfully.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

You are a psychologist

Have you ever had to talk your parents into buying you something? Did you need to throw a tantrum? Did you negotiate, saying things like all my friends have [it], or no more [things] for me this year?

Who hasn't made an excuse for a leave at the workplace because their best friend from school was in town? Don't you always try to get off work early on the day of some great sports event? Haven't you seen people wait to drink in office parties, just to let someone else do it first?

Do you tell bad news straight away or wait for some time, or for the right moment? Or do you tell bad news straight away only when it suits the situation? Have you ever sat on good news, except to give someone a surprise?

If the answer to any of the above questions is Yes, then yes, you are a psychologist. You may not want to admit it, but you are one. It is kind of implied in the fact that we humans are social animals. Manipulation is like a knife. We can either use it to make great food, or to cut through a jungle, or, we can use it to kill others. We are all psychologists, but it is upto us how to use this 'gift' of ours.