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Maritime Forum

TOPIC: To Ask or Not to Ask?

To Ask or Not to Ask? 09 Mar 2015 08:39 #4402

  • madhubanti
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There is a reluctance on the part of a Filipino to ask questions in situations where a Westerner ordinarily will. Officers who have managed Filipino seamen often wonder why they usually get a respectful silence when they expect them to react to certain issues they bring up in meetings.

One possible explanation for this is the Filipino attitude towards his officers and superiors. Since they are considered the epitome of wisdom or more knowledgeable, it is unthinkable for most seamen to question them.

Secondly, Filipinos refuse to ask questions because they feel it is "shameful," nakakahiya, to do so.

There is a popular belief that only the stupid and the ignorant and the provinciano (meaning "from the backwoods") ask questions. A Filipino seaman would rather pretend to understand the instructions given him and risk making a mistake than ask questions.

A suggestion when giving orders to a Filipino is to ask him to repeat the order back to clarify that it has been understood. Be willing to repeat your instructions. Be patient. Always ask for questions but don't ask leading questions such as "Did you understand the instruction?" Ask the Filipino to summarize what he understood. Speak clearly, using simple language and specific and accurate terms.

To encourage the Filipino to ask questions especially if he has not understood the instruction is to make it easy for him to ask for a favour by asking him what he can do for him. And when he hesitates, he insists that he asks him the question with admonition not to be shy.

On the other hand, an officer asking a Filipino personal questions such as "How are your wife and children?" conveys a message of goodwill. This is considered by a Filipino as a sign of concern. It is all part of pakikisama or "getting along well."

When correcting a Filipino, don't go straight to the point. Talk about something pleasant first. In delivering your correction be as diplomatic as possible.

Most Filipinos cannot take a direct, black and white declaration of his mistake. Do not use harsh tone of voice. Do not curse. Do not correct him in public. After a correction has been made, follow-up with an inquiry about some personal concern such as his family, his health, etc.

If an unpleasant encounter cannot be helped -- say, if an officer has to call down a Filipino -- one of the indications that an attempt is being made to lessen the hurt or minimize the unpleasantness is in this showing of concern for the Filipino's private life.

Thus, after an officer has told his Filipino seaman to work harder because ship efficiency suffers because of him, he abruptly switches to an "And how are your wife and children?" routine. This relieves the Filipino seaman and makes him feel that he still belongs, that he is still accepted. Otherwise, he resents the criticism and does not accept it. The Filipino criticized concludes that the officer is unmindful of other people's feelings and is difficult to get along with.
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