Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Decision to greet in collectivist society

I pity the job a security officer not because of his low salary or long hours, but because of the constant self-humiliation he often inflicts on himself. Allow me to elaborate what I mean by self-humiliation.

Greeting exchanges between people and security officers are common. To ensure a flawless exchange of greeting, a security officer must first watch the other party's body language indicating an intention to greet. Since his reaction may not be fast enough, he must do the motion of greeting in advance to easily coincide his own greeting with the other's greeting. Everybody won't feel awkward and continue their life..

The problem is not everybody want to greet a security officer. Even if they want, they might be too busy or tired to greet. Additionally, their distance and position might be too far or restricted. Another possibility is that they thought the security officer does not want to greet thus they don't want to risk greeting without reciprocation. Consequently, in many situations, people might decide to not greet and a security officer must correctly identify their decisions.

If he mistakenly think the other wants to greet - and he starts the motion of greeting to make the greeting coincide -, he will feel humiliated since his greeting will not be reciprocated. Meanwhile, if he mistakenly think that the other doesn't want to greet, he will not be able to coincide their greeting exchange on time thus humiliate the other. As the consequence, the other might not want to greet him in the future.

So, to be a perfect corteous security officer, he must always does the greeting motion in advance, regardless of risks that other does not reciprocate.

This is a big matter in a collectivist culture since unreciprocated greeting by a person of middle status will lead to humiliation. Anyway, unreciprocated greeting with a person of higher status is considered normal.

*Updated: Spelling, grammars, and structure*

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