December 11, 2017, 11:57:37 AM

Author Topic: Toxic workplace atmosphere  (Read 7902 times)

Offline reifoo87

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #140 on: October 11, 2017, 06:17:48 PM »


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I wonder how many people that complain about not being talked to go out of their way to make small talk with Koreans they don't know... and if they don't i wouldn't blame them at all if they were new to Korea and didnt feel comfortable speaking Korean.


No, the equivalent situation would be a Korean person who didn't speak English going to an English speaking country to teach Korean and being in a staff room with Western teachers of Korean.  If those teachers didn't talk to the new teacher because their language ability was so poor they could ask them if they had a nice weekend or what they thought of the UK/USA so far, it'd be a pretty sorry state of affairs.


So would you like to pick and choose in which situations to apply your notions of good etiquette is?

Online eggieguffer

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #141 on: October 11, 2017, 06:26:13 PM »


Quote
I wonder how many people that complain about not being talked to go out of their way to make small talk with Koreans they don't know... and if they don't i wouldn't blame them at all if they were new to Korea and didnt feel comfortable speaking Korean.


No, the equivalent situation would be a Korean person who didn't speak English going to an English speaking country to teach Korean and being in a staff room with Western teachers of Korean.  If those teachers didn't talk to the new teacher because their language ability was so poor they could ask them if they had a nice weekend or what they thought of the UK/USA so far, it'd be a pretty sorry state of affairs.


So would you like to pick and choose in which situations to apply your notions of good etiquette is?

 If people have enough language ability to be superficially friendly to new members of staff, (and that doesn't require much) it's a question of etiquette. If they don't have the skills it's a language issue.

Offline reifoo87

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #142 on: October 11, 2017, 06:40:41 PM »


Quote
I wonder how many people that complain about not being talked to go out of their way to make small talk with Koreans they don't know... and if they don't i wouldn't blame them at all if they were new to Korea and didnt feel comfortable speaking Korean.


No, the equivalent situation would be a Korean person who didn't speak English going to an English speaking country to teach Korean and being in a staff room with Western teachers of Korean.  If those teachers didn't talk to the new teacher because their language ability was so poor they could ask them if they had a nice weekend or what they thought of the UK/USA so far, it'd be a pretty sorry state of affairs.


So would you like to pick and choose in which situations to apply your notions of good etiquette is?

 If people have enough language ability to be superficially friendly to new members of staff, (and that doesn't require much) it's a question of etiquette. If they don't have the skills it's a language issue.

Exactly. Thats exactly my point. The CTs might not be comfortable enough to use the language they know outside of the classroom. Theres a huge difference between language comprehension and language production, the latter is usually lower.

Online eggieguffer

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #143 on: October 11, 2017, 06:50:44 PM »


Quote
I wonder how many people that complain about not being talked to go out of their way to make small talk with Koreans they don't know... and if they don't i wouldn't blame them at all if they were new to Korea and didnt feel comfortable speaking Korean.


No, the equivalent situation would be a Korean person who didn't speak English going to an English speaking country to teach Korean and being in a staff room with Western teachers of Korean.  If those teachers didn't talk to the new teacher because their language ability was so poor they could ask them if they had a nice weekend or what they thought of the UK/USA so far, it'd be a pretty sorry state of affairs.


So would you like to pick and choose in which situations to apply your notions of good etiquette is?

 If people have enough language ability to be superficially friendly to new members of staff, (and that doesn't require much) it's a question of etiquette. If they don't have the skills it's a language issue.

Exactly. Thats exactly my point. The CTs might not be comfortable enough to use the language they know outside of the classroom. Theres a huge difference between language comprehension and language production, the latter is usually lower.

So as I said before, if an English teacher hasn't the ability/confidence to ask someone in English if they had a nice weekend, for example, that's a pretty sorry state of affairs and I'd be more concerned about that than if they were just a bit unfriendly. One way to improve the situation would be to make those lessons you hear about the NET having to give for staff to be compulsory for English teachers. And make them speaking and listening skills only.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 06:53:39 PM by eggieguffer »

Offline reifoo87

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #144 on: October 11, 2017, 07:05:33 PM »


Quote
I wonder how many people that complain about not being talked to go out of their way to make small talk with Koreans they don't know... and if they don't i wouldn't blame them at all if they were new to Korea and didnt feel comfortable speaking Korean.


No, the equivalent situation would be a Korean person who didn't speak English going to an English speaking country to teach Korean and being in a staff room with Western teachers of Korean.  If those teachers didn't talk to the new teacher because their language ability was so poor they could ask them if they had a nice weekend or what they thought of the UK/USA so far, it'd be a pretty sorry state of affairs.


So would you like to pick and choose in which situations to apply your notions of good etiquette is?

 If people have enough language ability to be superficially friendly to new members of staff, (and that doesn't require much) it's a question of etiquette. If they don't have the skills it's a language issue.

Exactly. Thats exactly my point. The CTs might not be comfortable enough to use the language they know outside of the classroom. Theres a huge difference between language comprehension and language production, the latter is usually lower.
;D

So as I said before, if an English teacher hasn't the ability/confidence to ask someone in English if they had a nice weekend, for example, that's a pretty sorry state of affairs and I'd be more concerned about that than if they were just a bit unfriendly. One way to improve the situation would be to make those lessons you hear about the NET having to give for staff to be compulsory for English teachers. And make them speaking and listening skills only.

Well, English education is a pretty sad state of affairs in Korea  ;D My point was that there were a lot of generalisations about Koreans being thrown around about how deliberately rude they were to foreigners when there are plenty of other possibilities. Can you imagine how miserable ones life must be assuming that the people of the country they are living in are all out to get then?

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #145 on: October 12, 2017, 12:01:45 PM »
I think a point that isn't being focused on enough is the fact that:
1.) A lot of NETS have only taught in one school, so they literally have one sample of "Korean workplace etiquette/attitude" to pull from. So if it is toxic, rude toward them, and if the office community goes out of its way to ignore them, the NET will feel it pretty hard given that once again it's their only reference point.

But there keeps being the recurring argument of Koreans just simply being rude in the workplace in general so let's rush into that with number...

2.) Many teachers in general, especially ones who have done it for a long time, are not particularly nice, accommodating -- hell, I'd even go as far as to say that this job probably attracts some of the worst people to work with out there. I've certainly had more bad teachers in my life than good ones. So it's not so much that Koreans are racist or rude or whatever; it's more so that a lot of poopy people who also happen to be native Koreans work in schools here, and part of their job is to work with foreigners who take a long time to acclimate to such a dramatically different environment.

So if we combine these two points, then we have a system where what's supposed to be a vulnerable and learning foreigner's anchor and intro into Korea and the educational system here (the CT) becomes a toxic and unapproachable entity which then robs the new foreigner of an asset, causing a greater sense of isolation and helplessness. And given that a good portion of time is spent in such environment, then foreigners are much more likely to grow bitter back toward Koreans.

I do agree that there should be a sense of responsibility in the foreigner to try and combat this problem on their own by getting some very basic Korean and attempting to reach out to the Koreans in their workplace themselves -- but at the same time, the more the problem of feeling outcasted and unwanted is compounded, the less the chance a foreigner will feel like that is an option worth taking.

Online #basedcowboyshirt

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #146 on: October 12, 2017, 01:03:05 PM »
I think a point that isn't being focused on enough is the fact that:
1.) A lot of NETS have only taught in one school, so they literally have one sample of "Korean workplace etiquette/attitude" to pull from. So if it is toxic, rude toward them, and if the office community goes out of its way to ignore them, the NET will feel it pretty hard given that once again it's their only reference point.

But there keeps being the recurring argument of Koreans just simply being rude in the workplace in general so let's rush into that with number...

2.) Many teachers in general, especially ones who have done it for a long time, are not particularly nice, accommodating -- hell, I'd even go as far as to say that this job probably attracts some of the worst people to work with out there. I've certainly had more bad teachers in my life than good ones. So it's not so much that Koreans are racist or rude or whatever; it's more so that a lot of poopy people who also happen to be native Koreans work in schools here, and part of their job is to work with foreigners who take a long time to acclimate to such a dramatically different environment.

So if we combine these two points, then we have a system where what's supposed to be a vulnerable and learning foreigner's anchor and intro into Korea and the educational system here (the CT) becomes a toxic and unapproachable entity which then robs the new foreigner of an asset, causing a greater sense of isolation and helplessness. And given that a good portion of time is spent in such environment, then foreigners are much more likely to grow bitter back toward Koreans.

I do agree that there should be a sense of responsibility in the foreigner to try and combat this problem on their own by getting some very basic Korean and attempting to reach out to the Koreans in their workplace themselves -- but at the same time, the more the problem of feeling outcasted and unwanted is compounded, the less the chance a foreigner will feel like that is an option worth taking.

This is a very good post. There's definitely a spectrum of what's wrong, ranging from:

- Foreigner is whiny baby who can't get along with people

- Foreigner and Koreans both have some issues and their negativity feeds off each other

- KT is an evil manipulative person who enjoys setting the native teacher up to fail

There's these extremes and everything in between.

Offline Mr.DeMartino

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #147 on: October 12, 2017, 01:22:04 PM »
As far as new people at an office, in some cases there's something called FNG. It stands for (you guessed it) New Guy. You're the FNG until something changes that.

In some companies, people have come and gone and people don't bother getting attached to new people because there's a fair chance they might be gone in 1 month or 6 or 12. They aren't rude or anything, it's just that they aren't going to do anything to get emotionally close or attached.

There's also places where people go in, do their job and punch out. Some of those places have problems, others work pretty well because everyone is one the same page- Don't mess things up and do your work. In both of these cases, if you've ever worked a job where you have high turnover (such as migrant labor), you often have a workplace where you can go and do your job and spend the entire day not talking to anyone about anything non-work-related.

Different workplaces have different office cultures and the reason those developed can have very good reasons.

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #148 on: October 12, 2017, 01:26:24 PM »
I think a point that isn't being focused on enough is the fact that:
1.) A lot of NETS have only taught in one school, so they literally have one sample of "Korean workplace etiquette/attitude" to pull from. So if it is toxic, rude toward them, and if the office community goes out of its way to ignore them, the NET will feel it pretty hard given that once again it's their only reference point.

But there keeps being the recurring argument of Koreans just simply being rude in the workplace in general so let's rush into that with number...

2.) Many teachers in general, especially ones who have done it for a long time, are not particularly nice, accommodating -- hell, I'd even go as far as to say that this job probably attracts some of the worst people to work with out there. I've certainly had more bad teachers in my life than good ones. So it's not so much that Koreans are racist or rude or whatever; it's more so that a lot of poopy people who also happen to be native Koreans work in schools here, and part of their job is to work with foreigners who take a long time to acclimate to such a dramatically different environment.

So if we combine these two points, then we have a system where what's supposed to be a vulnerable and learning foreigner's anchor and intro into Korea and the educational system here (the CT) becomes a toxic and unapproachable entity which then robs the new foreigner of an asset, causing a greater sense of isolation and helplessness. And given that a good portion of time is spent in such environment, then foreigners are much more likely to grow bitter back toward Koreans.

I do agree that there should be a sense of responsibility in the foreigner to try and combat this problem on their own by getting some very basic Korean and attempting to reach out to the Koreans in their workplace themselves -- but at the same time, the more the problem of feeling outcasted and unwanted is compounded, the less the chance a foreigner will feel like that is an option worth taking.

This is a very good post. There's definitely a spectrum of what's wrong, ranging from:

- Foreigner is whiny baby who can't get along with people

- Foreigner and Koreans both have some issues and their negativity feeds off each other

- KT is an evil manipulative person who enjoys setting the native teacher up to fail

There's these extremes and everything in between.

You know, I think the key to being successful at this job isn't so much being a competent teacher as it is being a flexible, adaptable person.

Is it "fair" that oftentimes the poor, poor waygookin has to be the one to change and adjust in order to be comfortable? To be honest, not really; it's not really fair. It's true: the basic principle of accommodating guests puts the burden of providing hospitality to the Korean teachers. Why? Because, literally, they are the host. In their position, they have nothing to adapt to. They are familiar; they're home. They're not the fish out of water who can no longer read, speak, or hear. The waygook now is.

But, while it may not be "fair" that a good amount of times the KTs are not hospitable, that doesn't mean waygooks are afforded unlimited reasons to complain about how their workplace or cultural issues aren't going away. Maybe it's not fair that one should learn basic Korean for small talk, try to empathize with unfair KTs, be patient in a toxic workplace -- but that's still the only way things will get better.

If I recall correctly, it's called, "being the bigger person."

Offline Andyman

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #149 on: October 12, 2017, 01:31:32 PM »
Well said, #basedcowboyshirt.

I'm sure this has come up elsewhere, and I don't mean to belittle the younger teachers or users of this discussion board, but I think a lot of problems also originate from the fact that so many people take these jobs without a lot of work (and, frankly, life) experience. A huge number of complaints that I read on here could easily apply to workplaces in the West. Yes, there are some that are culturally specific and intrinsic to the Korean public and private education systems. Those can frustrate the hell out of you as a foreign teacher, but you made the choice to come here, so you have to adapt to them as best you can, or resign yourself to perpetual misery. But other problems simply fall into the range of shit you have to deal with in any workplace. Any western country is going to have its fair share of tyrant bosses and conniving co-workers. I've had plenty of experiences with them. But when I was 23 and taught English at a public school in Japan, I tended to blame every annoyance on "the Japanese". Several years later, teaching in Korea, I can identify some things as "Korean" but others are simply "things that suck about work". Yes, there's a big difference in the workplace environment when you're comparing a public school in Asia and your part-time campus Starbucks job in college, where you used to sleep with your co-workers and get stoned with your manager. But you need to compare between, say, a large public sector institution in your home country and an Asian public school for a fairer perspective.

Again, I know I sound patronizing, but this isn't likely to be understand by your average 23 or 24-year-old first-time teacher, at least until they're older and have more work experience in different contexts. That was certainly the case when I fit that description. I honestly think that you'd encounter a lot less complaining about teaching in Korea if the average new teacher here was, say 34 years old, rather than 24.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 01:34:26 PM by Andyman »

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #150 on: October 12, 2017, 02:23:17 PM »
Well said, #basedcowboyshirt.

I'm sure this has come up elsewhere, and I don't mean to belittle the younger teachers or users of this discussion board, but I think a lot of problems also originate from the fact that so many people take these jobs without a lot of work (and, frankly, life) experience. A huge number of complaints that I read on here could easily apply to workplaces in the West. Yes, there are some that are culturally specific and intrinsic to the Korean public and private education systems. Those can frustrate the hell out of you as a foreign teacher, but you made the choice to come here, so you have to adapt to them as best you can, or resign yourself to perpetual misery. But other problems simply fall into the range of shit you have to deal with in any workplace. Any western country is going to have its fair share of tyrant bosses and conniving co-workers. I've had plenty of experiences with them. But when I was 23 and taught English at a public school in Japan, I tended to blame every annoyance on "the Japanese". Several years later, teaching in Korea, I can identify some things as "Korean" but others are simply "things that suck about work". Yes, there's a big difference in the workplace environment when you're comparing a public school in Asia and your part-time campus Starbucks job in college, where you used to sleep with your co-workers and get stoned with your manager. But you need to compare between, say, a large public sector institution in your home country and an Asian public school for a fairer perspective.

Again, I know I sound patronizing, but this isn't likely to be understand by your average 23 or 24-year-old first-time teacher, at least until they're older and have more work experience in different contexts. That was certainly the case when I fit that description. I honestly think that you'd encounter a lot less complaining about teaching in Korea if the average new teacher here was, say 34 years old, rather than 24.

While I certainly agree that the lack of life/work experience causes many teachers here to be extra vocal in them complaining about/blaming Koreans for their less than perfect work environment, I think you're missing a critical component which further elucidates and, in a way, validates some of the foreigners complaints.

If this is the first time job experience in such a "no nonsense", high stress work environment for someone, than yes; they may attribute all their complaints to be toward Koreans and their culture instead of knowing that such woes are just what come along with working in ANY high-stress job. But what's makes a high stress, hostile work environment in the west different?

Agency. We're not foreigners back home. Back home, if someone has a toxic work environment, they can still at the very least communicate within it. They're isn't the problem of, "I'd love to address x but I can't because I lack the language to do so." They may lack the authority or clout to do so, but not the language.

Here, on the other hand, a workplace can be toxic AND rob a foreigner of the feeling that they have any power to address their issues let alone change them.

And while, yes, I agree, that's something foreigners here should just toughen up and deal with, it's understandable why some much venting happens. Venting to this degree always happens when people feel like their voice can't be heard.

Offline Mr.DeMartino

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #151 on: October 12, 2017, 02:57:40 PM »
And while, yes, I agree, that's something foreigners here should just toughen up and deal with, it's understandable why some much venting happens. Venting to this degree always happens when people feel like their voice can't be heard.

A big chunk of the time, "lack of agency" and "I'm not heard"=The boss and coworkers don't agree with me 100% of the time and take up every single one of my suggestions and brilliant ideas I have after a whopping 2 months of work experience, none of it in management/ownership.

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #152 on: October 12, 2017, 03:07:01 PM »
And while, yes, I agree, that's something foreigners here should just toughen up and deal with, it's understandable why some much venting happens. Venting to this degree always happens when people feel like their voice can't be heard.

A big chunk of the time, "lack of agency" and "I'm not heard"=The boss and coworkers don't agree with me 100% of the time and take up every single one of my suggestions and brilliant ideas I have after a whopping 2 months of work experience, none of it in management/ownership.

I agree. As I said earlier, "You know, I think the key to being successful at this job isn't so much being a competent teacher as it is being a flexible, adaptable person." But it's still not ideal. Not that anything is -- but it could improve by incredible bounds pretty easily.

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #153 on: October 12, 2017, 05:40:06 PM »
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As far as new people at an office, in some cases there's something called FNG. It stands for (you guessed it) New Guy. You're the FNG until something changes that.

This sounds like the army or some kind of blue collar job where they send the FNG out for a left handed screwdriver or striped paint. Not a proper middle class, civilized work place.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:43:09 PM by eggieguffer »

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Re: Toxic workplace atmosphere
« Reply #154 on: October 14, 2017, 09:18:57 AM »
Quote
As far as new people at an office, in some cases there's something called FNG. It stands for (you guessed it) New Guy. You're the FNG until something changes that.

This sounds like the army or some kind of blue collar job where they send the FNG out for a left handed screwdriver or striped paint. Not a proper middle class, civilized work place.
Or maybe paint stripper...guffaw