Misunderstandings in cultural behavior occur in every culture. This is a natural part adjusting to a new place. Turkey is certainly no exception!
In my piece “Three golden rules” (Sept. 29, 2013), I mentioned how most Westerners value frankness and directness, and we interpret polite and indirect answers as being dishonest. Here are a couple of comments from Today's Zaman readers.
Dear Charlotte: “After living here several years, I have mostly adjusted but still get annoyed with a couple of common practices here in light of all the excellent points you have made. When I am recruited to any foreign country, it is because I have a skill that they require. When I agree to live in that country, I am a guest and in effect agree to abide by the laws and cultural practices of that country. However, there is a line to be drawn whereas my cultural identity must also be recognized by the guest country, however small. They must leave us space to operate with some shred of our former selves in order to deliver our services successfully, which is also in their best interest. If they refuse to respect even the smallest traditions of your culture, it will be a very long and unsuccessful year for you. As unscrupulous as it sounds, always remember that you are free to move on at any time -- even if you have signed a written contract -- which may help relieve your stress a bit. Contracts here with ex-pats are realistically non-enforceable and nobody will take the effort or the time to even try as the costs are exorbitant for them and the success rate is nil. The only thing you might lose is a positive reference. There are many places in Turkey and in the world that will truly appreciate and welcome you. My advice is to actively seek those places out and move on if you are endlessly uncomfortable in your current employment. Life is too short!” From: World Traveler
Dear Charlotte: “‘When making a recommendation it is always wise to put the blame on an outside cause' [quoted from ‘Three golden rules']. [A]nd this is why companies around the world continue to fail: because they don't ever get to the root of the issue. Horrible advice. You can be direct without be[ing] personal and people need to get over it!” From: David
In the piece “Letting go of anger and finding peace” (Oct. 1, 2013), I point out that anger needs to be channeled in a positive direction; otherwise, it can lead to hate and acts of violence. Below are some comments from Today's Zaman readers.
Dear Charlotte: “Thanks for sharing this Article about ‘Anger' reminds me To be more Restrained in my Angry out-bursts at the TV because the NEWS is So Bad Lately…More Quickly I need to Bless and Curse NOT…!!! [sic]” From: Loren Nelson
Dear Charlotte: “Great topic Charlotte! I think so much of anger is a response to the realization that the world is not as it ‘should' be. As you said, the feeling of helplessness that the world is as it is (getting a blue car when I really wanted a while [sic] car, being diagnosed with cancer when I took really good care of myself, etc.) and there is little that I can do about it -- usually. Sometimes there is something to be done. I've spent some time looking how anger is one of the best motivators toward social activism and social change. The key is letting anger move us toward good, not just for ourselves but for the common good -- for others, too!” From: Wendy Bilgen
Dear Charlotte: “Sorry but it is not all that surprising. But I would beg to differ. It is NOT Turks as a people who are easily angered. The impatience and intemperate behaviours we all see are mainly the result of squeezing 14 million (?) people into a city that can barely accommodate half that number. People in İzmir do not exhibit this rage and anger, nor do those in Ankara (even with their horrific rush hour traffic jams) and I personally never experienced it in the rural areas even an hour from the city where people move more slowly, drive more respectfully and interact more politely. Having lived and experienced this in phenomena in crowded New York City and L.A. and barely noticed it in smaller, more manageable cities like San Jose and Munich, I can assure you the primarily cause of this behaviour is urban overcrowding, which drives everybody crazy. No need to over think this. See: the Crowded Rat Syndrome.” From: Walt
Walt, I agree with your point about crowded urban centers; however, the white car incident I referred to in my piece happened in İzmir.