November 28, 2008

#49 Avoiding Confrontation

Malaysian people are not fond of confrontation. You could say that they take passive-aggression to whole new stratospheres. There's something uniquely Malaysian about this trait of beating around the bush and delaying the inevitable that coincides with that other Malaysian pastime of complaining but not doing anything about it.

Malaysian people will go to great lengths to avoid incidents or encounters that force them to express feelings of discomfort or displeasure. If you have committed a transgression against your Malaysian friend, rest assured you won't hear about it from them. You will hear about it from another friend, your neighbour, your colleague, MSN Messenger statuses, Facebook or a blog but you will not be confronted by the person you've offended.

If you're wondering why Malaysian people would rather take this merry-go-round method than confront the source of dissatisfaction, you probably neglected the fact that this is part and parcel of Malaysian congeniality. It's true. Malaysians are far too polite to tell you about it to your face. Which is why they'll relieve their emotional burden by telling everyone else. If you're one of those in the loop, be prepared to hear the phrase "Don't tell him/her I said this but.."

In case you have manufactured a situation of conflict-avoidance, you need to know how you can manage such situations and use them for your own advantage. The first approach is to, well, approach. "Hey Jason, I understand that you were slighted by my remark about your casual attitude towards piracy. I'm sorry." This move will gain you lots of guilt trip points which you can use for leverage in the future due to them having already badmouthed you to everyone up till the point you apologised.

The other technique you could employ is slightly risky and requires a thicker layer of epidermis. Knowing full well that your actions offend someone, continue doing it and take advantage while feigning ignorance. Your Malaysian friends will grumble and whine about your behaviour (but do nothing about it) for years. During this period, low expectations of you will have been set in place. All you have to do is every now and then, display that you are capable (nothing certain, just glimpses) of change. This will appease them greatly and they'll continue feeding on the false hope that you have fed them.

It really is that easy.


Ashleigh said...

Aha! They'd rather bitch about it later than solve the damn problem now. And if you were to point out their problem or mistake immediately face to face, you'd get branded with the image of someone aggressive or confrontational. Sheesh...

B.H. said...


Such is the irony of Asian values. No wonder foreigners find us so pleasant and agreeable.


Ara said...

Tell me about it.Am sick of these type of Malaysian. Had to admit it originated from Malay culture (n for the record, I'm also a Malay) but honestly, I really3 hate that trait...It's like, bumpkin+bitchy+innocent but annoying kinda act...huh!

B.H. said...


We feel your pain. Although I can't say for certain that any one particular race can lay claim to such exemplary behaviour.


Stereomanic said...

so what you're saying is that we malaysians are easily manipulated and part doormat? why? i totally agree with you.
Malaysians will always kowtow somehow whether it's a political propaganda campaign or a asshole friend who couldn't stop "bullying" you. I broke from that stereotype quite a while back, just had enough of the crap. Still working on the fight against corruption thing tho.