Important news about emotions

This is another great writing by one of my favourite writers, Eric Barker.

Essentially, the 3 essence to improve your emotional intelligence are:

1. Learn to recognize emotional granuality.  

It is not just this makes me “feel good” or “not feel good.”

2. Learn new words that describe emotions – the Japanese has a word to describe the emotion you feel after you have a bad haircut!  

I think talking to more cultures and understand their special vocabulary would really help. 

3. Create new emotions – give a name to it.

All of these help your brain to figure out better what situations you are really in and to provide you with more resources or flexibility to cope with them.

Instead of being all panicky about the problem, you might feel cool about it – like the Hong Kong Chinese say: “when the sky falls, treat it like a blanket is covering you” (not always, but sometimes this works!)

Courtesy to Blazek
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Cultures

Multicultual

Having lived in three continents and working in a profession investing in developed and emerging markets all day long and working with many types of nationalities, I have always thought I am a pretty multi-cultural person.  This book called “The Art of Doing Business Across Cultures” by Craig Storti is a recent favourite of mine, opening my eyes to the nuances of 10 very important cultures of the world (they tend to be the larger countries including The Arab Middle East, Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, and Russia).  Even though it is written from the perspective of Americans dealing with the different cultures, in this global marketplace, every business person will have a chance to deal with many different cultures and would find the advice of this book useful.

I love some of the writings of the book:

Germany

The Americans are culturally quite close to the Germans.  According to John Ardagh:

[they] may differ greatly in their degree of social formality, but they share something of the same business ethos, the same liking for thoroughness, efficiency and modernism, and the same fondness for litigation.”

So what are some of their differences:

Americans are more tolerant when the lines between work and personal life become blurred, perhaps because professional accomplishments comprise more of their identity.

According to Greg Nees:

[W]hen they are at work, Germans do indeed work quite effectively and with great focus.  But when the workday is finished, so are the workers.  Punctuality is apparent, not only in starting times but also at the end of the workday; employees see overtime as an infringement on their private lives…

The Germans say Dienst ist Dienst, und Schnaps ist Schnaps – duty is duty, and liquor is liquor.

Brazil

Things do get done in Brazil, but it’s in spite of the system, not because of it.

This is the Brazilian’s jeito or jeitinho – their subtle ways to circumvent difficult situations via “doing favours”.  This is quite foreign or even looked upon negatively in America as Americans do not promote “favoritism”.  As Jacqueline Oliveira said:

The primacy of family and the ingroup in the Brazilian value system often explains Brazilian behaviour, including why punctuality cannot always take priority.  

Jacqueline Oliveira said this:

[Brazilians} may forgo a business obligation if a family matter arises…

There is also a deep sense of fatalism that pervades the Brazilian culture – many things can happen outside of one’s control which therefore simply must be accepted.  Fatalism and resignation thus explain why Brazilians often tolerate lateness, while Americans are obsessed with time [Americans believe in achievements, which are effort + time.]

China

Other cultures may find the Chinese way of dealing with compliments curious.  As Scott Seligman writes:

Accepting them outright is not considered good etiquette; a Chinese is expected to deflect compliments  and pretend he or she is unworthy of receiving them…one of the common phrase [the Chinese use]…is nali…that has come to mean something like “it was nothing.” It’s as if to say the kind words you have just uttered couldn’t possibly be directed at me…

Valuing group’s opinion over one’s own, the Chinese are taught to be humble, leading to routine self-effacement and personal modesty, which the Americans inevitably misinterpret as a lack of confidence.  Americans are one of the most individualist and the least group-oriented of all cultures, and so anything that affirms, supports, or strengthens the self is valued in America.  The Americans come across as boastful because in their culture, unlike that of the Chinese, they cannot rely automatically on other group members for support and validation.

France

Americans, despite their directness, do not like to argue; in their conversations, they look for common ground and they often agree to disagree. But not the French.  As Erin Meyer writes:

French business people view conflict and dissonance as bringing hidden contradictions to light, and stimulating fresh thinking…[W]e make our points passionately.  We like to disagree openly. We like to say things that shock.  With confrontation, you reach excellence, you have more creativity, and you eliminate risk.

The Arab Middle East

The Arabs are not only exuberant, enthusiastic, emotional people – not just in their actions but even more so in their words.

This tendency to exaggerate [and overemphasize] makes it difficult for Westerners to understand how Arabs actually feel and how enthusiastic they truly are about suggestions and proposals.  A quick guide: The absence of any enthusiasm or positive comments is a sure sign of a negative reaching, especially given the fact that Arabs, unfailingly polite, rarely indulge in overt criticism.  Modest enthusiasm, a few pieces of mild praise, signals a neutral reaction.  Effusiveness, exaggerated enthusiam, and hyperbolic praise all indicate a positive response.

Russia

A standard complaint by Russians against Americans is that they lack dusha, or soul. Russians like to connect with their business partners, to have a brief glimpse of the other’s soul. Elizabeth Roberts observes:

Russians prize the quality of soul above others…they often have a tendency to open their soul to complete strangers.

Yale Richmond writes:

Russians do have a rich spirituality, that does indeed contrast with Western rationalism, materialism, and pragmatism…the rational and pragmatic approach does not always work for them.  More often it is personal relations, feelings, and traditional values that determine a course of action.  Westerners are more likely to depend on the cold facts and to do what works.

There are many more gems and dialogues as exercises in the book to enjoy and learn.

The author said, there is always a reason why people do the strange things they do, the reason is almost never to upset you, and there is always a way forward.

 

 

 

Great San Francisco Food Streets

As visitors are coming to town to San Francisco, there are a couple of streets here that offer a great variety of eateries without hurting your purses or wallets too much.

Enter the graffiti-filled Polk Street, which has a great variety of ethnic and international food ranging from Mexican cocktails, Moroccan food, Indian buffets, super cheat groceries, to fine diners including Michelin-starred La Folie and the romantic Italian Aquerello.

Next is Kearny Street, which links up the financial district and Chinatown to the Union Square.

Here choices include Greek eateries, Japanese curry and ramen, Thai food, International Food Court, American Classics, Cantonese flagship (R&G), and many popular boba tea places. There is an EscapeSF outfit now, which visitors should try. It is rated the top 2 most fun games in SF by Trip Advisors.

Happy New Year of the Fire Rooster

The first day of the Chinese New Year of the Rooster will be on January 28 when you will hear “Gong Xi Fa Cai” or “Gong Hey Fat Choi” well wishes (they both mean wishing you abundance of wealth.)

This year is one for the fire Rooster; the last time this occurred was in 1957. For each zodiac sign, there are five types – gold, wood, water, fire, and earth. Each type has a different personality.

Everything is celebrated in red – you will see children wearing red jackets, adults giving red packets to the younger ones, good tidings written on red paper, etc.

San Francisco and London have apparently the largest celebrations outside Asia.

Let us celebrate the Chinese New Year with some scenes from the flower markets last weekend in The San Francisco Chinatown – lots of red!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and energetic year of the Rooster!!

First, a beautiful red Rooster from Guangdong, China!

Wishing you abundance every year!


All sorts of Rooster ornaments!


The sound of the mandarin orange in Chinese resembles luck and blessings.

 The most popular surnames in China:

Amazing human flexibility and strength!


Some Kung Fu movements!


And sharing this beautiful rainbow photo shot by a neighbour during our stormy weekend!

img_4001

What Chronotype Are You?

Who doesn’t want a better night of sleep?

I recently heard a wonderful interview with Dr. Michael Breus about sleep – in order to get better sleep, you need to know if it is your drivers/initiators of sleep (something called “adenosine” that is built up in your system to cause you to feel sleepy which then gets dissipated after you have slept) or if it is your circadian rhythm/biological clock that is giving you problems.  He also advocates natural methods rather than necessarily a pill to fix the problem.  Also despite conventional advocate of 8 hours a sleep and a bedtime by 10am, actually everyone needs different amount of sleep and has a different “right” time to go to bed.

As he is launching his new book, the Power of When, in September, he is sharing a quiz to identify what chronotype each person falls into.  His book will go into details the best time to do anything – the time and how much for sleep as well –  for each chronotype.  Sounds interesting, and the quiz is fun to do.

It turns out I am a Bear.

Let me know what type you are!

Hong Kong Night and Day
Are you a night owl or a morning person?  Day and Night in Hong Kong photo.

 

Flower Piano in the San Francisco Botanical Garden

To a piano player and a garden lover like myself, when I heard about the Flower Piano event (July 7-18) at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at the Golden Gate Park, I was overjoyed and could not wait to be a part of it.

With the sponsorship of Sunset Piano, 12 pianos are tucked among flower-filled gardens, beautiful ponds, redwood trees, all free for the public to play. There are scheduled performances as well. The garden has become a public concert hall, and with the beautiful surroundings of over 8000 kinds of plants, it is hard to imagine a better way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon.  It was amazing to hear all the talents coming out from the audiences to play their favourite music – classical, jazz, self-composed music, or just kids trying their hands on the piano. Some of the ambiance and acoustics were just surreal. Though I have seldom practiced my piano these days, I still managed to play in 6 of the 12 pianos today, performing Debussy and Yiruma’s works, basked in the audience’s appreciative claps, to which I was equally grateful and pleased.

These are some of the flower pianos I have played on today – no photos of mine but nevertheless still very fun and memorable.

How your iPhone can hold all your music scores!

And here is one of the pieces I played – the First Arabesque by Debussy. I have a feeling I will go back at the end of the week to play again and participate in a community sing-along, too.