Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 08:51:29 PM EST
In what follows, excerpts from a recent exchange on issues turning around personal debating styles, and social communication in general that, I dare say, deserve a bit more than only being part of a private conversation.
One of the issues I personally had with living in France, from the very beginning, was not the fact in itself, but the extent to which certain people took care to protect others' sensibilities - sometimes so much so that one did not know where one stood anymore. I happened to find myself at work chasing for a sign of some kind, a movement of a brow, a look, something to give an indication as to the reality behind the over-friendliness (in part, no doubt, due to being a foreigner). Frustrated of so much "protection", I soon started acting the opposite - of course, to no avail: shoulders were raising and looks were going up and around. I've been assured everything's just fine. Everybody very happy. No problemo!
Then a word was slipping now and then, hinting to some issue - nothing serious, but still. Nevertheless, it has been a titanesque (for me, as a newcomer) work to evaluate and interpret behavioral deltas - in ways and to extents I had neither expected, nor imagined, ever.
I commented on the matter on a blog once, about one or two years ago, to the surprise of a sudden reaction from a German girl who had lived in France for some time, who further told about her own exasperating experiences with overly nice, friendly and protective (no pun intended) French employers.
"You never know where you stand," she said; "it's not even about them; you cannot improve yourself, since everything is ok .
Right now I feel like adding: we should have asked for more money - then we would have certainly had the truth! :)