Chapter 3

Tell Your Grandma to Go Home

Grandma always has a lesson or two to share; my grandmother certainly did. Even for those of us without an actual grandmother to pass along wisdom and quirky expressions, society has provided us with a grandma of sorts. We’ve all inherited our unconscious beliefs about the world through a variety of channels—be it from parents, friends at school, teachers, neighborhood attitudes, or the television. These beliefs include our own experiences, the media, the myths and legends we learn as children, our belief system and religious instruction. All of these channels unconsciously provide us with a point of view that in turn informs our perspective of others and ourselves. I call these channels “Grandma.” It is shorthand for the different ways we learn about ourselves and others, and even though we are all professional adults as we enter the workplace, we bring Grandma with us. She sits next to us in meetings, performance reviews, interviews, conference calls, and at any other time we are at work.

For example, in the United States, Grandma customarily taught men that “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” implying that the person who complains the loudest often receives the most attention. Or that if you speak up in class, at work, or at a party you will get noticed—and even rewarded. However, in Japan it’s said that, “The nail that sticks out gets hit on the head.” The squeaky wheel is a far cry from the lesson taught by the Chinese Grandma, who ...

Get The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.