Cultural imperatives are customs that you must conform to if you want to succeed in any endeavour that involves people from other cultures. In the context of communication, these are the do’s and don’ts of interacting with people from other cultural groups.
Between you and your Filipino remote contractors, there are cultural imperatives that you have to be mindful of when communicating remotely with each other to avoid misunderstandings, inefficiencies, and disputes.
Here are some cultural imperatives to remember when communicating with your Filipino remote contractors:
Young asian business man using computer for a online business meeting with his colleagues about plan in video conference. back view of business man have webcam group conference with coworkers at home
Filipinos are very friendly by nature, so they try their best to get along with everyone. Some of them will try to avoid conflict as much as they can. To avoid causing a scene or starting arguments, they may choose to not say anything. This can be a problem for you as your Filipino remote contractors may choose to not air issues or problems they notice within your company to avoid getting involved.
The concept of “hiya” or fear of losing face is another reason why some Filipinos try to avoid confrontation, especially with their supervisors or employers. They do not want to be perceived as incompetent by their colleagues when confronted regarding their performance or behaviour at work. In relation to this, confrontation requires them to speak up. If they are not confident in their English-speaking ability, they may find this situation disconcerting.
In Western culture, confrontation is a normal part of work environments. People are always having meetings and debates about work-related issues and they are not afraid of being straightforward about their views and opinions. Your Filipino remote contractors may experience culture shock at first and may take them some time to get used to your straightforward remarks.
Years of being colonised by foreigners left its mark on the Filipino people, and this mark is evident until now. One of them is the perception that foreigners are superior beings. Believe it or not, there are still some Filipinos who feel intimidated by foreigners, especially Westerners.
This feeling of inferiority may affect their ability to express themselves in the presence of their foreign employers. They may feel that they need your permission to speak up, so you will not know how they feel or what they think unless you ask them.
When it comes to decision-making, your Filipino remote contractors will let you have the final say in everything as they perceive you as the person in-charge. Your approval and guidance give them the confidence they need to carry out their tasks well.
In contrast, Westerners are more confident to freely apply themselves in everything that they do. You may be used to working with people who go beyond the boundaries or instructions you have set. These people are not scared of being confronted or of meeting opposition, so they make their own decisions and take steps without waiting for your approval. If you want your Filipino remote contractors to do the same, you may have to take the time to train them and help build their confidence.
Filipinos respect hierarchy, may it be at home or at work. In the workplace, they demonstrate this by using honorifics when referring to their employers, supervisors, and seniors. Your Filipino remote contractors may call you and any other colleague Sir or Ma’am, which may sound strange to you at first.
Furthermore, there are Filipino remote contractors who may feel intimidated by you as you are their employer. You may notice that they seem silent, uptight, or cautious whenever you are around. They may act this way as they are afraid to do or say something wrong in your presence.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the Filipinos’ high regard for hierarchy is the idea that their employers and supervisors always have the final say. This kind of thinking discourages your Filipino remote contractors from expressing their opinions and suggestions.
In contrast, Westerners promote equality in the workplace. Surely, hierarchy still exists but every team member thinks that their voice and contributions matter to the company, regardless of their level of involvement in a particular project. Instilling this equality mindset in your Filipino remote contractors will not be an easy feat but it is definitely feasible.
Filipinos enjoy socializing and entertaining people. They will do whatever it takes to make people feel happy or comfortable. If done in excess, their goal of pleasing others may cause them to sacrifice precious time and resources.
At work, Filipinos also want to please and impress their employers and supervisors. As a result, they sometimes find it hard to say “No” to requests and instead, just agree to everything that you say. This practise can throw you off because as a Westerner, you are known for being assertive. You know what you want, and you have the confidence to disagree with someone else’s opinion.
Being assertive is not only about knowing what you want. Your way of speaking and your gestures also show your confidence and assertiveness. However, these gestures may mean differently in other cultures, so it is important that you know how your Filipino remote contractors may interpret the tone and volume of your voice and your gestures.