My mother hails from the Philippines. And over the years, I’ve had the chance to experience two different cultures during the holiday season. Like most of America, Filipinos enjoy a cooked ham at Christmas. Except, Filipino ham (aka “Lechon”) is presented in a different way than the traditional honeybaked & coated in brown sugar variety. Lechon is the whole roasted pig on your dining table.
People have different reactions when viewing Lechon for the first time. For example, my son walked up to it, made sure it wasn’t his dog, and walked away without saying a word. But, another person seeing Lechon for the first time couldn’t keep her comments to herself. (Let’s just say I don’t think she had any ham that night.)
Did she offend any of my 15 Filipino relatives with her comments? Probably not. But then again, we were all family.
You might not be so lucky if you make a similar comment to a non-relative regarding his or her culture. And with the startup world shrinking with every incremental increase in bandwidth, chances are that you’ll be presented with a different cultural phenomenon in near future. Co-founders are increasingly multinational, and startups are using developers worldwide.
So if you are confronted with something different or downright freakish relative to your culture, do what my son did. Keep quiet. You don’t have to eat the pig, just don’t bash it.