Monday, June 8, 2009

Pancit Palabok - Asian Style

We had a good lunch with my friends today - pancit palabok, barbecue ribs, rice, cantaloupe, brownies and grapes. I baked the ribs and cut the cantaloupe into small slices myself. After lunch, we watched the movie 'The Curious Life of Benjamin Button'. I already watched the movie so I stepped out and went to the real estate office. My keys could not open the mailbox so I complained that I got the wrong key. Tracy was the one manning the store and I got to talk to her. She is a swell girl and we talked about the nearby shopping places and sports club to go to. We also talked about the schools nearby and things like vacuum and wrinkle-free clothes to cut down ironing. I liked our conversation but I had to leave to get back to my guests.

Tomorrow will be a hectic day because our things form Singapore will be delivered. I have a meeting in the morning from 9-10 am so I have to go back home and help arrange the stuff. I think I will drive back to the office at about 2 or 3 pm. My son will be here so he will be supervising the unloading until I get back. I am getting to bond more with my son and I was teaching him to drive after our friends left. He has difficulty learning how to use the manual transmission. We started our lesson yesterday and he really needs a lot of time to master manual transmission. I have a target to make him confident in driving before my wife arrives. I hope to also complete his enrollment to his new school by then.

I am starting to feel a bit anxious at work. The project manager I am assigned to seems to be playing some games. I think he is a bit uneasy about me and I have to be careful. Strangely I am not as stressed here because the people here are open and straightforward. In my old office, I felt that people where out to stab you in the back. Even your closest colleagues are speaking behind your back. At least that is my impression over there at the old office and I may be wrong. I do not have the same feeling here where every is given a chance to express himself and it's a level playing field. Back in Asia, it was more of relationships and who you know. Despite my comfort level, I still need to be careful and acclimatize myself to the local culture.

Learning and adjusting to the idiosyncrasies and personality of my boss will be the main challenge. He is actually a smart manager who is fun to be with, he exudes a charming rascally about him, with a devil may care attitude. But he is lost on the details sometimes and he forgets and this is an advantage for me. I think he has a stereotype about me, someone who will have difficult adapting to the culture and speaking the local slang language and being close to people. I think he also thinks that I will be confused on the local process. But I have submitted a lot of documents needed in the project: peer review plan and result, context diagram, business process and the request for contribution. I have also arranged meetings and worked on a few tasks for him. When I explained the work I have done so far to my hierarchical manager, she remarked that I seemed to be making progress after being here for less than 2 months.

My wife will soon be here in less than 20 days. She is still weak from all the medication she is taking. She is even too tired to talk to me. So we do not speak everyday. When she arrives, I have to schedule an appointment with a liver specialist. She needs an operation and I pray that everything will go well. I blame myself for not seeing this problem. I did not realize that the stress of moving will affect her that much. I hope we will be able to lift her spirits up when she gets here. I think the mind and feelings play a big role in one's health. My wife does not agree with me and thinks that it has no relation. I think this disconnect maybe preventing her from recovering fully. I should learn how to express myself tactfully when she get here. I think my impatience and reaction to her gives her a stressful and toxic reaction. So I should avoid stressing her out.

I think my words at work may also get me into trouble if I am not careful. I tend to talk more these days and my training at Toastmasters have helped be more aware of what I am saying. But I think I have a very low emotional intelligence and that I fail to get the signals that some people like my project manager is sending me. I realize that learning to keep quiet and to shut up maybe the wisest thing to do for the time being. I always have this urge to dominate and speak to much when I should just keep quiet and listen. I feel insulted when I am not invited to meetings and I think this is the game that the project manager is playing. But I think I can help by making the effort to explain my actions more. Sometimes I am lazy and I just don't care so I just go on and do it without being sensitive to local sentiments. So I need to improve my social and emotional intelligence here.

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