12/30 課堂筆記 The Art of Choosing

Participants: Maggie, Fannie, Stacy, Angela

We discussed Sheena Iyengar's TED talk, "The Art of Choosing."

"In America, when a paying customer makes a reasonable request based on her preferences, she has every right to have that request met."

In modern taiwan, this is true.
Before they would tell you, there is no sugar, or it's out.
But more and more people ask for higher quality of service, so people feel it's a basic requirement of service to meet reasonable requests.

Why would they tell you tell you there's no sugar?
To save money


"If a choice affects you , then you should be the one to make it."
Do you agree with that?

Why should I make the choice, just because it affects me?

Here's an example. In Taiwan, many parents choose the department that their kids will study. This will affect them.

So, do you agree?

I agree, but in my experience, we're still affected by someone.
I agree with you.
I want to make choices, but sometimes it's in vain.


"This is the ONLY way to ensure that your preferences and interests will be most fully accounted for."
Do you agree with that, that it's the ONLY way?
I found that Europeans or maerican like to say ONLY, but we like to say "maybe".

Hey, that's true. Why do you suppose that's true?

We don't like to use this kind of definite language. It's too definite. We like to use something in the middle.
Our culture likes to say, "The middle is good".


"In America, the primary locus of choice is the individual, people must choose for themselves. This is what's called "being true to yourself."
Do all individuals benefit from taking this approach to choice?"

Because americans care about individual difference. Is that true?

We do.

So, do you agree?

I don't think so. Not all individuals benefits. How about each individual's choice in contrast to the whole group? For our group of four people, the best choice would be to continue with this discussion. But another individual, her choice might be to discuss something else or skip this discussion.

Hmm, not clear yet.

How about, one individual's choice may hurt others.

Oh, yeah, I sort of thought you were saying that.

How about enough people making a good choice for themselves might hurt the group.

What do you mean?

Like, "I wll eat out and save time by using disposable dishes" but over time they build up and become a problem for everyone.


"Anglo-American children did two times better at an activity they were able to choose themseleves, as compared to chosen by an authority or their mother.
Asian-American children did best at activities picked by their mother, next best at of their own choosing, and least best as chosen by an outside authority (teacher)"


My reaction was, of course!

Not mother, maybe father.

I felt, of course, because I feel like parents, you know, their words, is God.

I can totally understand americans, white people they choose on their own and do the best. But I also understand asian kids, who do better on their parent's choices for them.

I was surprised that Asian Americans do better when they got to choose it, than when an outside authority chose it.

But they are asian-ameircan, not asian.


"In Taiwnaese culture success is just as much about pleasing key figures as it was about satisfying one's own preferences."
True or not?

But isn't this true all around the world?
In the corporate world, if you want to gain more success, or more pay, the more quick way is to please key figures.

Hmm, maybe it is. I agree with you.
For a group outcome, like the example I gave, I think so.

But if it's a personal choice that apparently only affects you, is it important to please key figures?

What about, how you dress? You still do it to fit in a group.

This question asks that, when we do make a choice by ourself, we perform better than if others make a choice for us. For instance,...

I have a question. If you are never given a chance to choose on your own, how do you know how to make a choice.

Ohhh, yeahh.

Because then you're afraid to make a choice. You don't know what the outcome will be

If you never make a choice for yourself before 18, then suddenly you have to choose for yourself after the exam what to study? That's way too scary for an 18 year old.

That's too scary for anybody.

So your point is you need practice choosing.

Yes, but when to start?

I would say, at four, when you already start trying to choose. but I'm an american.


"The individual preferences were shaped by preferences of specific others."

For instance, the choice in college are shaped by our parents' choices.

Hmm, I think she's talking about something less direct. Or maybe you're right, you would never dare choose architecture if you know your parents wouldn't like ti.

Or as a child, you're only allowed to drink milk or eat vegetables, you think your preferences are to drink milk and eat vegetables.

Yeah, I was raised to hate junk food, and now I still hate junk food.


"The assumption that we do best when the individual self chooses only holds when that self is clearly divided from others."

Because in this group, there are three groups. In anglo-american culture, people are separated from others, so they do best on their own choice. But asian americans, they are not so separated from others, so they do best by their mother's choice.

...mother's will.

Yes!

You know, my mom always wanted me to be a teacher, but I didn't want to be.

But, now, actually, you're not a teacher, so how does that work, then?

She still wants to affect my will, but she might be beginning to accept I'm not a teacher.

...

On the one hand, everyone's opinion all the time is oppressive, but there's also the group support.

The immigrant group needs others' support.

So the responsibility is shared to everyone.

So my experience when first working in a Taiwanese office, I found out that people worked very hard to make up the work the less capable members didn't or couldn't do. This was very shocking to me, because my understanding of how things should work was that if someone was too much of a dead weight, you're supposed to just let that person fail on their merits, so that you wouldn't be held responsible for someone else's failure.
I had a conversation with a Taiwanese coworker about this, and he said he thinks this is why taiwan companies can't get ahead, carrying all the dead weight an American company wouldn't carry.

So the taiwanese will do 80 percent job, holding the "dead weight".

But, if you don't work together to support that guy then the cart will fall over!

Right! The americans will let the cart tip, with the intention of getting a more effective cart the next time around.

The american way agets a more efficient machine, but the taiwanese way is more humanistic.

So in american culture, this method will make people to do the best, or you will fail, becuase no one will help you.
So they do better than us.

But combined with the ethic of competition, they're always in fear of being cut out.

They take the responsiblity and they have to take care of it themselves, or they'll fail, and be cut out.

And in our culture, I don't have to do it perfectly, because someone will help me, and someone else will get that other 20 percent for you.

And that's because we know, when we fail that others will fail.

It's a basic assumption.

So we never do the best, of ourself.

So that's the same when we're children. We all know that when we make mistakes, our parents will fix them.

You know, for americans too, but sometimes, they let you fail, so you can feel the responsiblity.

What I'm thinking about, is doing things 80 percent, is it really bad?

Not the best.

But is it really needed? No one can do 100 percent all the time.

You know, we just discussed this the other day. My colleagues in my office are perfectionists, they are detail oriented.

They're also both english teachers, meaning they've got overseas training.

Yeah, they want to do everything perfect. They think very thorough. I think it's hard, I think it's hard to be that thorough. But they think this is s good way to be. But I'm not that detail oriented, which means I do 80 percent.

But I know your track record, you get things done!

The 80 percent of a thing is different than the completeness of a thing.

Oh, I get it, the perfection of the thing is different than the completeness of a thing.

It's not perfect, but it's good enough.

Get it done first, then think about how to improve it.

But, what I want to say is, my colleagues, they pursue perfection. But in other ways, one of them hurts colleagues without knowing it.

Because they're seeking the 100 percent?

I don't know, she wants to be perfect, but she doesn't work well with other people. She's not perfect.

hahaha

So it's impossible to be perfect.

I think the point is not if you can be or not, I think the point is "you don't need to be" because we are a group after all

None of us is really doing it alone, and this myth causes problems in the american politcial system.

So, we just said americans don't cooperate, about 15 minutes ago. We said that if someone fails, no one will save her.

You know, that's his or her business, it's not your business.

So he or she fails, and didn't complete the event, so...we are talking about the completeness of the event, or the perfection of the event.

And these are independent thiings.

We're talking about different things, and different results!
So...do we want to become perfect?

I think in the American case, people make things done, they will not save that person.

You mean, when they want to get something done.

Maggie was talking about done vs. perfect. I'm saying the point is get things done.

"Done is the engine of more!"

It's related to, 'The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.'

So what's the difference between done and finished?

My mom used to say, "Cakes are done, children are finished."

In our case, done is 80%, and finished is 100%, so done is Taiwanese and finished is American.

Hey. Done is complete, and finished is perfect.

Oh, there's the finish on the table. A polyurethane finish, a wax finish, a natural finish.

Or, when you're done with the report, you tell everyone you're done, but if it's not to the client's specification, then it's not finished. You're done, but the client feels it's not finished.

Somehow, that thinking seems very Taiwanese to me.

So it's like a degree of done.

My boss things 100 percent is half-done.

Every boss thinks that. The grade of done is 100 percent, but for employees, the grade of done is 80 percent.

Everyone has different grades of done, because they have different socio-economic status.

That's a really interesting thing to bring in to this discussion!

Well I thought about my boss. She always wants 100 percent of competeness, but this is impossible.

We talk about the '差不多' factor.

...

It seems to me that here in taiwan, once a decision is made, no one has the patience to wait, it has to be done now now now.

Yes! Because people think it's a piece of cake, but it always takes longer, so we just feed something the key figures to solve their expectation, and then figure the rest out later.


"When in contrast two or more individuals see their choices and outcomes as intimitely connected, they may amplify one anothers' success by turning choosing into a collective act."

A collective act means a group working together and creating an outcome together.

Oh, you mentioned this before, when an individual fails, the others will work to cover for them.

In Taiwan. So even in america, the guy who couldn't complete the event is you're friend, you don't help them.

Well, its depends, but in general, business is business and friendships is friendship, and you don't let your friendships drag your business down.

So you don't make friends with your colleagues.

People here have to make friends with their colleagues so things will work well for them.

Well, you have business relationships, of course, you need them, but they're different than personal relationships.

But you know from my observation, in my 30 days on this job, people do help each other! If someone has trouble, or makes a mistake, others will help.

You know, I want to clarify that we're talking about the principles of how you're supposed to behave in a culture, not necessarily the actual behaviour of individuals



"Choice as a self-defining act."

You're defined by your choices.

I find it refreshing that I don't see it here as much.

Because we all obey a specific rule about how things should be. We look at the Japanese magazine, so everyone has to wear a brown jacket.
But now I think it's diverging.

I think people in America judge people on the choices they make.

They don't need to face that person, so they can judge them however they want.

If you are the sum of your choices, and someone judges your choices to be wrong, you are then wrong.

Your beingness is wrong.

Your recognition by others?

But in america, people make individual choices, so it should be accepted.

So there's a conflict! They judge people by their choices, but their choice should be free,

They judge other's choice by their own choices.

So that's the problem with this logic.

But in our culture, we can understand why some people can judge others' choice, or refuse others choice, because in our culture, we think people make choice not just for their own self.

So you're thinking of the welfare of more than one person.

So the choice is important because the choice is made for many people. Hmm, I'm not sure, but it's okay.

What are you not sure about?

Because I don't know exactly that I'm judging someone's choice in this way. I'm not sure.
You know. Because I will not think that it's many people's choice. If I see something, if I judge this event, I don't think that it will be many people's choice, so it's okay for me to judge it. Because you said that a choice is made by many people.

Not made by, made for.

So it's a greater choice, it's affecing more people

If you made a choice of a job, not for your own self, but for your own familly. a father might choose his job for his family.

So someone cannot judge this job, because it's decided for his family.

Wait, you're saying that the logic is greater? I'm saying that because he's considered for a larger group of people, his choice is more unassailable.

No, it's a contrast to compare to the american case. The american father makes his job choice for his preferences, he might not consider what kind of job is best for his family. So in his opinion, no one can judge his choice. but americans will still judge this father's choice.

He's defining himself thorugh his choice, but other people judge him on their own choices.

But in taiwan, they make choice not on himself, they will consider others preferences, so in my opinions, others can judge

so you're saying, under american system, it's not okay when they judge others, but under taiwanese system, it's okay.

you're not talking morality, you're saying what's reasonable under the premise of their system?

...

You know, there's no conclusion today, but this has been a really interesting trip.

We always get some special and interesting ideas.

Someday, we'll figure out the whole thing.

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