Monday, 20 August 2012

Week 14 - 'Tall Poppy' Syndrome, Mark & Jenny Return, University of Victoria Law Revue,and so much more besides!

Wellington with a fuzzy camera!
Hi Everybody,
Wow, I'm a day late writing this and am sat here wondering quite how I can put everything I want to say into words... so it's another one of those blogs where you might want to get a cup of tea, get comfy, and then read away...

I've had so many thing to think about at work this week, with the revelation of a New Zealand (Kiwi) characteristic. (I'm basing this on a general principle, rather than an absolute truth). Whilst chatting with my colleague, (a Psychologist) about a case, she began to describe a general characteristic of Kiwi's is something called 'Tall Poppy' Syndrome. As my colleague said: 'it is not cool to say you're great at stuff". It was suggested that people downplay their skills and abilities. I have always thought that British people do something similar, certainly compared to the U.S.A. However, once this was pointed out to me, I began to realise how true this was, because I've heard quite a few people, (both professionally and personally) use phrases like, 'I wordy I'm going to get found out', or just understate their achievements and skills. 
So I started to wonder how this might affect my interactions with my clients? For example: if a kiwi client is telling me that they are not doing well at work... are they simply not wanting to say that they are good at something because it's in their culture to say that, or is their perception of how their illness affects them? Also, (I'm a confident person/professional & used to promoting what my profession can do - especially as the only Occupational Therapist in the team), so when I am in a meeting with kiwi colleagues, if I say I'm pretty good at doing a certain kind of work, am I making myself look like a 'tall poppy'? It certainly made me think lots about my interactions with both colleagues and clients! 

(One other thing of note, is that people here don't seem to use sarcasm, or understand when I'm being sarcastic... which has led to some silences in conversation!) Even though it's a 'Western' culture, the lines between normal / acceptable behaviors are more hard to understand! More of this later....

Not quite Blackpool
I have also had lots of fun, mainly in the form of two of my oldest friends (Mark & Jenny) returned to Wellington for the weekend, after a crazy 8 day tour around the South Island. A weekend of laughter, walking, drinking and eating ensued.. with some funny photo opportunities! (as you can see from this week's pictures).
Oriental Parade
I also had a rather different, but none the less, fun night on Thursday with my friend Hannah, and some of her friends. We went to Victoria University 'Law Revue' - 'Murder at CULT House' - a show put on by the law students, with full-on songs and dancing, and some very questionable humour. In between the main story there were a series of sketches (skits - as they call them here), where no subject was too taboo! The sketches made fun out of New Zealand politics, ethnicity and pretty much anything and anybody famous. I can't really describe the most controversial jokes, because some people would take real offense. All I can say is that there were some very talented "lawyers" on that stage and some very controversial jokes, I hand't laughed so much in a while! 

Mark with local wildlife!
Woodland walk with Mark!
Back to another issue to do with culture and work! I initially really enjoyed the more relaxed general attitude in the work place here, compared to the National Health Service in the UK. I still like the more relaxed approach here, (like morning tea). People work as hard, but don't get so intense and stressed about things here. However, I have been surprised by some people's use of language and behavior within professional settings. I think part of my problem  is that I am used to working with very strict and clear guidelines in work, and here it feels like some of those guidelines are less clear. It's hard not to give specific examples because I don't know how much of what I see may be specific to my team, or the service I am working for here in Wellington, or if it's an issue across NZ? 
Speaking to people who have moved her from the UK, they have said they have found it difficult to get used to a more relaxed level of conduct in work. I might be bringing my own point of view, values and perceptions of acceptable/unacceptable behaviour into some situations here, but I have observed behavior that I consider to be unprofessional on a number of occasions, in a number of different situations. I must say just because I think that some behavior is inappropriate, (in my perception), it does not mean this is necessarily true in the context in which the behaviour happens. It's just something different, and something I need to learn a way to judge and maybe discuss with kiwi's here in more detail.
Mark ready for dinner!
Jenny @ Bangalore Polo club
So it's getting late and I need to add the pictures! So thanks for reading, and hope everyone's been enjoying the start of the English football season! (How Liverpool lost 0-3 to West Brom, conceding 2 penalties and a red card, I just don't know!!!). Onwards and upwards! 

Regards from New Zealand!

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