The Personality Development Track aims to hone the participants social welfare by addressing issues one commonly deals with in the Office setting on a daily basis – how to deal with conflict and control one’s anger, and more socially attuned to one’s office surroundings.

Conflict Resolution and Anger Management

Dr. Randy Dellosa enumerated common issues that bothered Filipinos. Topping the list of his usual encounters as a practicing psychologist are the following: (1) nerbyos; (2) depression; (3) relationship problems and; (4) anger.

Knowing and Controlling Your Anger

Anger management is no joke especially for people exposed to everyday high levels of stress. People with such exposure include government employees. And as civil servants, they need to keep this emotion in check to maintain a good working environment for themselves and others around them.

Dr. Dellosa stated that there are two types of anger: positive; and negative anger. Positive anger is one that can be directed towards productivity and often rooted from rational causes while the latter is the opposite. Negative anger can also be called abnormal anger.

Abnormal anger is prolonged and has a tendency to evolve into a grudge. It is quite frequent and is often intense. Another characteristic of it is that it is easy to generalize situations and become unreasonable.

Adding to this, if you have problems expressing anger or if you intentionally hide it, you should beware. This might also be a sign of a negative anger brewing inside. In worst cases, negative or abnormal anger could be abusive and psychotic.

Anger is an emotion that could cause anxiety and depression in severe cases. It does, however, not stop there. Anger could also affect the body physically. According to Dr. Dellosa, anger could trigger conditions such as hyperacidity, diarrhea, or even contribute to causing higher blood pressure and heart attacks. Many identify headache as a common effect of anger, while a more unknown consequence is its impact in slowing down wound healing.

With all the bad emotional and physical effects of anger, Dr. Randy Dellosa emphasized in the importance of managing it whenever avoiding it is simply not as plausible.

Managing your Anger

To effectively manage your anger, you must first be able to identify your anger triggers. Knowing what makes you angry will help you avoid being angry in the first place. However, this may not be as simple as informing people around you to steer clear of a certain list of your identified triggers. There are types of anger set off from within; these are those stemmed out of arrogance and narcissism.

Once you identify which things cause your anger, you may also want to pay attention to your anger cues; signals that tell you or other people that you are angry. Some show it in their lips, many contract their eyes and eyebrows. Whatever it is, that may be common or even unique only to you, knowing signs of your anger will give you a better heads up to start controlling yourself.

Third thing is knowing one’s anger style or the way one expresses his or her anger. There are people who dump anger or displace it to other media, people or activities; while there are those who bury it and even those who ignore it.

Mastering anger recognition whenever it comes knocking is the best way to avoid doing rash things and being overwhelmed by this strong emotion. Taking back control at the first, second or third sign will help one avoid worse circumstances that may arise from it.

Nevertheless, anger will come. First and best tip is to get away from the trigger or the situation that made you angry. Try to relax, take deep breaths and slowly count to ten. You may also try talking to yourself to calm you down or encourage more positive thoughts. And for some cases, distraction is the best. Play a video game, listen to music or whatever it is that would make you calm down.

Second step after calming down is analysis and reflection on the anger. Talk to a friend or meditate on it to figure out a solution to whatever it is that makes you angry. And lastly, stay positive and be proactive. There’s no better way to manage anger than maintaining a positive atmosphere.

Dr. Randy Dellosa delivered a convincing argument. At the end, his rules on anger engagement left their mark in the audience for them to refer to when faced with an angry friend, love one or relative:

  1. “Ang unang magalit ang may karapatang magalit.”
  2. “Sarcasm and panlalait is a form of anger.”
  3. “Walang galit na nag-aaway mag-isa.”
  4. At “Ang taong galit ay bingi!”

Social Graces

Social graces, manners, etiquette: these are things expected to be possessed by any adult, things which should come as “common sense”. However, it was through the recently concluded GAD Summit that the participants were once again reminded of these values and guided through proper social know-hows. There to realign the DOST-ICTO employees with their social graces were speakers, Mr. Carlo De Pano and Ms. Cory Quirino.

Throughout the discussions, DOST-ICTO employees gained proper insight on society’s unspoken rules on social graces and the importance of putting these into practice.

Sir Carlo De Pano was the first to give his talk, having introduced social graces as something “obvious”.

He highlighted 5 key concepts when it comes to defining social graces: Culture, Spatial Communication, Social Distance, Race, and Politeness.

  1. Culture – He stated that social manners are anchored on culture. Therefore, the way we move in society and the social rules we observe are a reflection of our own culture.
  2. Spatial Communication – Space, however unnoticed is an important aspect in communicating and observing social graces. He mentioned that each person has his/her own space bubble in which one interacts.
  3. Social Distance – Mr. De Pano differentiated physical distance from social distance, stating how the latter is felt but not measured. This concept becomes apparent in how we come up with our own social bubble, and manifest concepts such as “kapwa”.
  4. Race – Race is also of utmost importance in determining how to act appropriately. The lecturer advised the audience to always observe sensitivity, respect, proper distance and awareness when interacting with people of different races and cultures.
  5. Politeness – Politeness was defined in the lecture as the value of being sensitive to issues of other people, including their differences, and their weaknesses.

Mr. De Pano went further in discussing the importance of culture to social graces by discussing other cultural patterns which may influence behaviour.

These concepts include:

  1. Stereotypes – which are standardized conceptions or images of groups of people. These can be misrepresentations, and can therefore be erroneous and resistant to change.
  2. Prejudices – defined as negative attitudes towards a cultural group, often based on little or no experience.
  3. Ethnocentrism – referred to as the notion that one’s own culture is superior to any other. It employs the idea that standards must be set by one’s own culture.
  4. The presence of high-context and low-context cultures – In which high-context cultures prefer using high-context messages, where the meaning is implied by the physical setting or is presumed to be part of the culture’s shared beliefs, values, and norms. In contrast with low-context cultures, who prefer to use low-context messages, where the message is encoded in the words used, or in the verbal expression, and not in the context.
  5. Power distance – Which puts value in the institutional and organizational hierarchy, and whether the decisions of the power holders should be challenged or accepted. As a tip, Mr. De Pano advised to always greet superiors at work, regardless of whether they greet back, just as a display of proper decorum.
  6. Uncertainty avoidance – Referred to as extent to which the culture feels threatened by uncertain situations, and tries avoiding them by establishing more structure.
  7. Individualism vs. collectivism – This refers to the degree to which a culture feels more dependent to himself or his group: us Filipinos being one to exhibit collectivism, with the concept of “kapwa” inherently present in our society.
  8. Masculinity vs. femininity – Congruent to definitions of gender, this delineation refers to the degree to which a culture values masculine behaviors or feminine behaviors. In the local context, Mr. de Pano defined the Philippine culture as in general as one that adapts patriarchy, however, it goes a different way in the family setting, where matriarchy is more commonly observed.
  9. Time Orientation – Understanding time orientation is understanding that people from different cultures can vary in their perceptions of time: with some treating it with utter importance, and others, such as Filipinos who are more relaxed and loose in their perception of time.

Apart from these notable cultural patterns which impact the way we make social interactions and observe proper social graces, Mr. De Pano included other considerations which must be kept in mind, and practiced constantly. He highlighted several tips, which included:

  1. Money doesn’t buy class. – As the statement implies, money does not give anybody the license to be impolite. Money and social status does not give anybody an exemption from showing respect and observing proper behavior.
  2. Observe proper social manners – Proper social manners manifest courtesy and respect, sensitivity, show of gratitude, and acceptable public behaviors.

Specifically:

  1. Show courtesy and respect by acknowledging the presence of others, saying “Please” and “Thank You”, giving full attention to the person you’re talking to, showing respect for other people’s differences in opinion, and apologizing when necessary.
  2. Show sensitivity to other people’s needs, emotions, orientations and weaknesses.
  3. Show gratitude. Even for the smallest thing, always show sincere gratitude.
  4. Observe acceptable public behaviors by dressing appropriately, being mindful of how others would perceive you and your actions, avoiding yelling or talking loudly and other inappropriate displays of affection and adapting the culture of the place where you are.

With these guidelines, Mr De Pano further geared the participants in keeping an open mind and being adaptive to change, as change is essential for evolution. According to him, it is when cultures resist change that they die.

Throughout his discussion, he said the most important thing one must ask himself upon acting is, “Is it right to do it?” If the answer is yes, do it by all means.

Ms. Cory Quirino, an icon of timeless Filipina beauty, health and wellness was the second speaker to grace the event and impart her own take on social graces. Similar to De Pano, Quirino stated that one must always think before acting, and the important question one must first ask himself is, “Who am I?”. According to Ms Quirino, the social graces which you observe must always be in line with who you are, what you represent, and what you wish to project. Whereas De Pano correlated social graces with culture, Ms Quirino aligned social graces with our “pagkatao” or the wholeness of our self.

Ms Quirino stated that social graces or manners are derived from tradition. And as with any other tradition, these manners must be passed on from generation to generation, in order for it to be kept alive and not forgotten. In this aspect, she actively encouraged parents to impart upon their own children the importance of possessing values of chivalry and decency even in today’s fast-paced world.

Social graces, she said are anchored on respect and awareness. Respect is but essential in dealing with people of all races, status and gender. She defined awareness on the other hand as “being in the moment”. Being in the moment prompts how you can respond appropriately to a situation, especially to the people around you, which in turn shows due respect.

Ms Quirino made a commentary about today’s generation and the fast-changing times, growing more and more digital and fast-paced by the second. Throughout these changes, she reiterated the importance of sticking with values adhering to chivalry and proper manners. She said that these values, exhibited practicing social graces and appropriate dress codes will remain timeless throughout years to come.

With the two speakers offering points of view from both a cultural and personal perspective, the two share the important view that social graces must be practiced regardless if someone is watching or not. Practicing social graces will always go back to the golden rule: Do unto others how you would want them to do unto you.