KNOW WITH WHOM YOU ARE TALKING. Is this easy to do? It is, if you know how. First, look at the whole picture. Then, assess what you see in its entirety.
You are a salesperson doing business in the Philippines. Hence, most of you clients are likely to be Filipinos. If your client is a foreigner who has lived in this country long enough, he may be a Filipino-American, a Filipino-Japanese or a Filipino-Indian.
So, generally, your client is a Filipino. Having indentified your client of his nationality is a good springboard towards getting to know him better.
What are his habits, ways, thought patterns and bases of choice? Is there an established pattern in the way he acts, relates and decides?
In short, what really is a Filipino?
Dr. Jocano has poetically defined what to him is a Filipino:
A Filipino is like the mythological bamboo.
He sways valiantly with the winds of misfortune,
only to rise unscathed when the tempest is over
to meet the warmth of the morning sun.

A faithful and correct translation into the National Language would be:*
Ang Filipino ay tulad ng maalamat na kawayan
na magiting na humahapay sa bugso ng mga kasawian,
upang bumangong muli na ni hindi nasaktan
ng unos na nagdaan at lumisan,
upang damhin ang init ng panibagong araw.

This description of a Filipino highlights his remarkable flexibility to survive after tackling life’s trials and blows.
But, in order to know him btter, we also need to know his social characteristics.
Generally, Filipinos are very SENSITIVE (maramdamin). If you raise your voice while talking with him, he immediately gets mad because he thinks he is being shouted at. If you fail to notice or greet him the moment he sees you, he will regard you as proud.
A Hongkong tourist-guide story has it that an American tourist found it very difficult to differentiate a Japanese, a Hongkong Chinese, and a Filipino from one another because of their common Asian appearance.
The tourist guide tol the American: “If you accidentally bumb an Asian while walking on the busy streets of Hongkong, and he steps backwards and apologizes while bowing, he’s a Japanese. If he assaults you with high-pitched profanity, he’s a Hongkong Chinese. But, if you’re knocked out because of a fist blow, he’s a Filipino.”
That is just a story. But it graphically illustrates the latent Filipino character called silakbo, or the irrational sudden outburst of uncontrolled anger.
Generally, the slightest and unintended intrusion into their persons or reputaions also easily offends Filipinos. If you happen to say something that has pricked their self-esteem, touched their sensitivities or arouse their built-in hang-ups, they would be offended. It is also possible that you have not uttered anything wrong, but because they mis-interpret whatever you have said using their preset orientaion or norms, they become furious. When this happens, the unfortunate result is that you are misunderstood. What already been established.
So, take the necessary precautions here. We have to make sure that what we know about our clients is utilized as a road map in our dealings with them. This helps us to achieve a smooth interpersonal relationship with them. This is because we ourselves like harmonious relations.
Aside from being sensitive, the Filipino is also very PERSONALISTIC. He likes almost every thing personalized.
Filipino customers seldom respond by phone or through mail. It would be good already for those having mail order business in their direct marketing if the response they get amounts to 1%.
In the Philippines, there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. Filipinos generally prefer person-to-person attention.
Why do you think did Jollibee surpass McDonald’s in the Philippines?
If you can recall, it was McDonald’s that introduced the fast-food service idea in the country. Its first store was near FEU, along Nicanor Reyes Street. You were the one who would get your own food from the counter. Then you would find a table for yourself. Afterwards, you would be the one to clean your table.
This did not work. Why? It is because, here in the Philippines, customers prefer personalized service.
“Ako na ang bibili at kukuha ng pagkain ko, ako pa’ng maglilinis? Aba, masaya ka! (I pay for my food and get it from the counter. Am I still expected to clean up after I’ve eaten? That’s too much!)”
It is also notable that Filipinos are FAMILISTIC. More often than not, decisions in the family are not unilaterally made. There is consultation among family members whenever a major issue is in need of a final decision- e.g., what the first baby’s name will be, who will be his godparents, what preschool he will go to. It may also be where to spend vacation or what house appliance should be first bought.
If you offer a refrigerator to the wife, she will tell you, “I’ll tell my husband first.” If you ask the husband, he will say, “I’ll consult with my wife first.” Whenever there is a substantial change in the offing, the effort and the concern are always directed towards the general interest and welfare of the whole family. This, every salesperson must consider all the time.
Knowing with whom you are talking not only saves you from pitfalls of trouble and embarrassment. It also helps you steer your way through the labyrinth of peculiar human behavior towards the end of the tunnel, where it is bright and where you can see clearly your client filling up the order form you brought for him.


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