Saturday, 9 January 2010

I originally wanted to post this yesterday, but we all know what happened yesterday. In the end I just didn't have the mood to blog.

Before leaving Langkawi! 
 
Anyway, there was an article in StarTwo yesterday on why we humans act differently in the company of different people.

AT ALMOST every year-end, my uncle from Kuala Lumpur would come to Penang with his children and grandchildren for a short holiday.

The last year-end was no exception. Playing host to them was easy. All I had to do was join them for dinner on as many evenings as possible.

But one evening, I had a function to attend later, so I suggested to my female friend, whom I was to pick up for that event, to join me and my relatives for a quick dinner before proceeding to our destination. She agreed, and that saved me time and petrol.

However, during dinner, I noticed a different side of my friend which I had never seen nor imagined before. She was exceptionally quiet, hardly the person I had known for years.

Sound familiar? The plot thickens:

I’ve known her to be good at socialising within our circle of friends. I would consider her nei­­ther an extrovert nor an introvert; just something in between.

When I read the article I realized that I could relate to this woman. I can talk a lot with my circle of friends, but in the company of strangers I would immediately quiet down.

Having fun in Langkawi

The explanation was that this friend of the author is using a "mask".

Some people call it “the mask”, – the various personalities that we project when in different situations.

“Masks are a product of our cul­­ture, its prescribed etiquette, and our own psychological defence net­work,” says Marcia Grad in her book, Charisma: How To Get “That Special Magic”.

“We have masks which are helpful in defining and maintaining our various roles, such as parent and employee masks. And we have masks for various occasions, like parties and funerals.

“We need our public masks in order to be socially accepted and to control our involvement with the large numbers of people we meet every day.”

So, perhaps this was the mask my friend had put on for my relatives – a cool, no-nonsense girl as opposed to the usual carefree, warm personality that she is known for.

I find it to be totally true. I remember when I entered college I was more reserved and quiet. I interacted with the others politely, but did not show more of myself. But later on when I got to know them better I began to let loose- and needless to say my classmates were surprised at my personality. Comments ranged from "mean" to "heartless".

Ice creams not allowed!

And it is also true-

“Once two new people have spo­­­ken to one another, however briefly or superficially, further conversation becomes easier,” Grad says.

“Even asking someone at a gathering, ‘Where is the bathroom?’ will make it more comfort­able for that person to say something to you later. Once the verbal barrier is bro­­ken, the feeling that the other per­­son is a stranger diminishes,” she says.

Here's the full article.
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