Inconsiderate Behavior

Moving to a new culture you have to be willing to adapt and accept things different from what you may be familiar with. Most everything in Malaysia I have no problem adapting to. The biggest thing I find very annoying consistently is noise.

Noise at my condo – loud noise from temples (very loud bells, loud sound systems), firecrackers (a alot – early in the morning at 4 AM this last week over 30 loud gunshot style ones for example, which is the worst but alot of firecrackers at less unreasonable hours too). And very loud speakers blasting on the street or in malls. But that is something that is just the way it is. I can accept it and just understand that it annoys me, but you don’t get to have everything the way you want.

My philosophy is much more that: you limit very much things you do that are inflicted on other (once what you do infringes upon others rights you make consideration for others primary). I notice in Malaysia the more primary thing seems to be the willingness to just tolerate whatever others are doing. Which is a good trait to have, if you don’t let things bother you, you are much happier. I think the in West people think of Asia in general as people being more considerate, it seems to me it is really instead people being more tolerant. Just accepting that things are the way they are and if you are not powerful you can’t expect others to worry about your desires.

The condo below me started massive heavy construction last week – without any notice. I find this incredibly inconsiderate. The effect is essentially like having someone jackhammering in the room next to you (the only different in the heavy construction being inside my condo right now I have no dust). The idea that I should be given warning of such a massive disruption to the ability to use my condo seems foreign. The condo office won’t even respond about how much longer I can expect to have similar disruption (4 days last week this happened – Thursday was fine for some reason). My rental agent just says I am suppose to keep begging the condo office and maybe eventually they will tell me something.

I don’t really understand this attitude. It just seems so silly. The construction requires advance approval from the management office. But the management office gives no warning to those that will be impacted. And they don’t even respond to requests for information.

One of the actions to take based on this is to not expect the condo (or housing estate) you are considering will do the minimum you think of as reasonable. You should check in advance what policies they have in place to provide for some basic consideration of your needs – such as notice if heavy construction is going to be going on for sustained periods of time. Or whether it is acceptable for the office staff to just completely ignore your requests and not respond at all. I am sure they would say, of course we will respond. Given the behavior I would want to see what evidence there is of that claim.

It seems to me this is more of a bad process issue, not a cultural issue. It is just a bad idea not to warn people in advance so they can make alternative arrangements if their use of the condo is going to be severely damaged. By giving notice you are considerately letting them take action to reduce the loss they face. I can rearrange my schedule so I don’t have to cancel international conference calls in the middle as the heavy construction makes it impossible to hear (now I can’t schedule anything during the day for fear of what will be going on). I can rearrange me schedule and leave town or take care of a bunch of things I need to out of my condo if I know when my condo is going to be rendered unusable.

It just seems sensible to let people minimize the impact you are going to be causing them by the actions you need to take (heavy construction). I can’t understand any reason why being considerate in this way is not a good thing to do. I guess maybe in an ascetic culture where pain was meant to be tolerated, not avoided, you wouldn’t want to let people avoid it, but otherwise it is just the considerate thing to do.

I must say other than this I don’t have any significant complaints. I always see room for improvement of anything I witness. I find it odd how when you want to buy sometime that isn’t exactly available instead of trying to present you alternatives that are close and would result in a sale (or trying to say oh we could do that, or we can’t quite do that but we could do this other thing…) the answer is just no. It is the attitude you would get in huge stores in the USA where the people don’t care about service, but for small businesses usually they are proactive about how to make the sale. That has not been what I have seen here. It does seem to me businesses could do a much much better job of using the internet to gain customers.

Overall Malaysia has been great. Overall people are very kind. Overall people hardly ever get upset. I haven’t had hardly anyone try to rip me off (overcharging etc.). The weather is wonderful. The food is great. Taxis are good. I like being able to swim outside any day I want and play basketball. People I meet are often interested and ask about what I am doing here, etc.. Traveling around is good (the airlines and airports are so much more pleasant than the USA).

Related: Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your CondoCity Square Mall in Johor BahruUsed English Language Books in Permas Jaya

One thought on “Inconsiderate Behavior

  1. It’s funny reading through your post and found some similarities between Malaysians and Americans. I’m a Malaysian but frankly, I get the cultural shock not when I’m overseas but when I’m back from overseas. Ha! When I just came back from aussie, I often felt offended when people hung up without ending the conversation properly like saying Goodbye. I got hung up on when I was actually pausing in between sentences.
    I’m also staying at an apartment. When we just moved in, a neighbour upstairs would do drilling at night or during weekends even though it is not permitted by the apartment management.
    Moment of silence can be quite precious in Malaysia.

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