Seeing Behavior Styles and Bias Through an Asian American Lens with John Chen Thumbnail

Seeing Behavior Styles and Bias Through an Asian American Lens with John Chen

“Some of us from Asian cultures have to work harder to get to the Controller and the Persuader Behavior Styles,” says John Chen, Geoteaming CEO. “I think that’s what hurts us in an American style of management. The American style of management is about who can take control, who can be the loudest, and who can speak or orate well. And, sometimes, culturally that isn’t our best suit.”

If we are not careful, our Behavior Style preferences can become cultural biases that do harm to others and prevent them from achieving their potential. Most organizations and communities tend to have a couple of Behavior Styles that they value over others. Frequently, people who don’t fit in tend to have fewer opportunities, are perceived as less capable or less valuable, and end up facing many other disadvantages. 

It’s even more devastating when these biases become racialized. 

In our second episode of Conversations at the Institute, John Chen joins George Myers in reflecting on his experiences with anti-Asian racism and what we can each do to rise up to meet the demands of our current cultural moment.

[Read “Business Leaders Need to Step Up Against Racial Inequality”]

What Are ‘Conversations at the Institute’?

A free series of live, one-hour webinars, Conversations at the Institute will be featured on Facebook Live and Zoom over the next few months. 

We’ll be hosting conversations with guests from various fields of study, industries, and racial and ethnic backgrounds who are also familiar with our Behavior Styles model. 

According to President George Myers, “The purpose of these conversations is two-fold; I want to expand my understanding—to consider these connections by listening, discussing, and learning with various experts—and to provide you with an opportunity to learn along with me.”

[Read “Exploring Behavior Styles, Culture, and Bias with Kendra Washington-Bass”]

Some Highlights from John Chen

“When we talk about culture, these are things that you have grown up with . . . . Sometimes they help you in the right situations, and sometimes when they hurt you, you have to work really hard to gain that skill [“rotating your iceberg”] if you want to move forward and succeed in a culture that is not yours.” 

“Larry Lasota was a diversity trainer here in Seattle, and he has one of the greatest experiences . . . . He wrote a book about ten people who were white supremacists that have changed. Ten stories. And do you know what every story has in common? They made a friend. They made a friend that was in one of these other groups . . . . So if you think you have a bias, if you want to take an action, take the time to become a friend. And not a fake friend, like ‘I’m trying to do this to punch my card,’ but a true friend.” 

“Don’t try and take over. But when you get there, just hang out and wait. Wait for somebody to ask you to do something. Don’t try and take over. Because it’s their culture. You’re the visitor.” 

“The conditions were so bad that they rioted multiple times for better conditions. Even the commissioner came in there. People waited anywhere from two weeks to 18 months was the record, because you had to take the test and pass it. If you failed the test, you got deported. And this is the sad part. There’s the concept of ‘saving face.’ You don’t want to go home having somebody spent so much money on you [to immigrate to the US]. So some people committed suicide because they didn’t want to face the shame. Ten percent of two million people were turned away. So 200,000 people either faced the shame or took this drastic action.”

John Chen is the virtual leader of Geoteaming. He's been virtually meeting for over 35 years. He is the author of “Engaging Virtual Meetings” and “50 Digital Team Building Games," a top-selling business book.

His work has earned him multiple awards, and more than 230,000 clients across the world. In addition to leading Geoteaming, he climbs mountains, walks on fire, swims with dolphins in the wild, rides Harleys, and organizes Super Bowl Suites while meeting with people from around the world from his computer.

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