June 7, 2006

Business etiquette, Vietnam style.

21 oil company officials must write self-criticism reports for failing to sing karaoke at a contract-signing ceremony:
"No one has been laid off yet but they have to criticize themselves for not participating in collective activities."
Is part of your job participating in office "fun"? Don't you hate that? Isn't that what the TV show "The Office" is about? I'd just like to see the Vietnam version of the show.


Seven Machos said...

In Hanoi, a friend and I decided to karaoke "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John, an impossible song to sing and we are bad singers. It was a tribute to a friend from home who loves the song. We were horrendous. But we are Americans, and we didn't do it to sound good or to be serious. Part of the fun was being awful.

Everyone in that bar was visibly appalled at us, and we had to leave because we sensed we committed a gross breach of cultural etiquette.

And that's my contribution to this thread.

Seven Machos said...

It was actually in Ho Chi Minh City.

David said...

The last collective 'fun' event I was involved in revolved around having a group of us figure out a way to put womens panties on a goat.

I still can't believe they paid some Management Consultant money to come up with that idea.

As for Ho Chi Minh, he was a stooge of the Chinese and Russians against the U.S. Because of him, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese were 'reeducated' and over a million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge who were just like him.

For Ho, if you didn't sing the party line you joined the missing or ended up on a boat in the South China Sea.

'Karaoke' as practiced in Hanoi has a dark past and should be avoided. Subourning the individual to the collective will not work.

Dave said...

Good god, I hate those "mandatory fun" activities that companies put on.

I'd rather just get the work done and go home.

Personally, I like to be busy, to have deadlines, and to work long hours. Having "team fun events" doesn't remove the stress inherent in work; it creates it.

David said...

Dave, I agree. These events have the effect of mutual blackmail and mutually assured destruction when inevitably an intellectual showdown occurs sometime in the future. The bones in the closet start to rattle a silent reminder of past 'fun' events.

jeff said...

Ah, mandatory fun - and here I thought that idiocy was the exclusive province of the military.

I'm so disappointed to be wrong.

Icepick said...

"The last collective 'fun' event I was involved in revolved around having a group of us figure out a way to put womens panties on a goat."

David, this one's easy. Kill the goat, and THEM put the panties on.

David said...

We thought about that but then decided we didn't want to find out where the panties came from or another 'fun' event on how to obtain said panties.

The group of wussies I was with couldn't kill a mosquito that was biting them and the lunch was rich in soy and vegetables. They actually chose one unfortunate to play the "goat" so the group could do a trial run!

The goat seemed to enjoy the attention a little too much, which is another story since it was a male goat.


PatCA said...

Interesting mixture of management styles: Marxist self-criticism coupled with threats of layoff, capitalist boss style!

Cat said...

I hate office outings. It's not like you can relax and be yourself. It is awkward and tedious.

At my current office there is the pressure to have a "REALLY good time!!!" Truth is, I don't want to have a really good time with these people. I see enough of them as it is.

We have our big "outing" in a few weeks and I plan to miss the dinner part of it where I will be seated with people I don't know. It's agonizingly long.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Many Japanese companies (at least in the past) often made their employees engage in group exercise and "spirit" activities, but they took care of those employees till they kicked the bucket.

I would actually be happy to do that for my company (sing, dance, snap wet towels on fannies), if I was paid enough, and the company was truly a family and going to keep me employed till I am dead.

Unfortunately, corporations often try to do the stuff that is all about appearance, while holding back the stuff that matters: good pay, timely raises, bonuses, time off, good healthcare packages.

They want you to do the collective "happy face" activities, while ignoring you in the stuff that matters.

My boss, just the other Friday, called a "witty t-shirt" day, and of the four winners, two were management. (With one winner's shirt actually referencing the boss himself). Annoying.

I wore a polo shirt that day to stick it to the man. (Okay not really, I always wear polo shirts. Just the easiest thing to grab for out of the pile on the floor).

rob said...

As a former Naval Officer I can say with certainty that I ruined my career over not shaving my head. I was going to meet the parents of my girlfriend in a couple of weeks and I knew this was their first military experience so I didn't want to come off too gung ho. Even though I was "highly encouraged" to "show support" for the Captain's dinnertime "Wouldn't it be funny if the whole wardroom shaved their heads?" idea, I did not. The Captain took it personal. I ended up on the shit list. Spiraled downward from there until I got reviews that made sure I wouldn't go far. I'm not in the Navy anymore. Point is that sometimes Karaoke is -that- important and sometimes you just have to grab the mic and sing.