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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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Multitasking vs Compartments    

By Garreth Humphris
1919 Views | 4 Comments | 7/29/2012 11:06:55 AM

One of the things about writing a blog is that it forces you to look a bit closer a how you approach things in your life - I mean, I could easily go through my life getting no real feedback - someone doesn't respond as I expect, I could just assume something bad about them and go on my merry way! But a blog is a little different because it invites comment by others, and while some aren't necessarily nice or influential, the act of writing and thinking about the responses does give some contemplation time.

The common ’commenter’ response is ’you don't know China’, or ’you don't know Chinese people’ or ’not all Chinese People are like that’ and it is quite true what they say...there are exceptions to every observation I make so rather than stirring up the proverbial s@@tstorm again (as John Abbott so delicately put it) I wanted to share an observation or two of myself (which I also think applies to many other males) and how that might be utilized by Chinese women to better understand people like me! (fat, foreign, living in China).

If you read the self-help books you will find that men are from Mars and women from Venus...Mars being a small red angry-looking planet occupied by the God of War and Venus is a warm turquoise peaceful planet occupied by the Goddess of Love. But I wanted to describe myself in another way - the way I organize my life and the way I think about things.

You see, I (and I suspect most men) seem to organize our time into “time compartments”...so I have my ’work time’, my ’tv watching time’, my ’drinking at the pub’ time, my ’fun with loved ones time’, my ’intimate time’...you get the picture!

It is like I have to cut my day into small pieces and deal with each piece in it’s own ’Gareth Logical Sequence’.
Now, if one of these ’time compartments’ is disrupted, I tend to get annoyed - for example, if I am “working” and the phone rings and my friend asks me “how I’m feeling because she was wondering how I was”, I become annoyed with this - “It’s my working time”, I’m thinking to myself, “not my care about partner time! - you broke the rules.”

This ’time compartment' plan doesn’t have a lot of rules but mostly it runs by “don't bother me with other time-compartment tasks because, I just can't switch quickly between them!”

It also means that if I am ’interrupted’ in one process, I will need to assess the new 'net benefit' to me before I can change... say for example, I am in my ’lie about the home on a hot Sunday afternoon’ and my friend suggests some ’intimate time’, it is a no-brainer. But this suggestion at other times seems the most ridiculious that I have ever heard (well, maybe not, but you get the idea).
If I get a “lower priority request” in any higher-priority time compartment, then I’ll probably have the attitude that you are ’nagging’ me, or ’checking up on me’ or whatever! But it won't be too complimentary!

And if I am in one time compartment you like then take advantage of it because I’ll be out of it soon!

This is how men can be romantic one moment and cold the next - they’ve switched time compartments!

This is also why men are hopeless at remembering anniversaries or calling home when travelling - they are in ’work’ time, or ’finding the hotel’ time or ’worried about the presentation’ time not ’family concern’ time - they only remember when they would do a regular ’family time’ task, such as kiss the wife good morning! Now they are in ’family time’, ring the wife who coldly asks ’Why didn’t you ring me last night? Where were you? What were you doing?’...and the guy is thinking - "I was working, getting ready for today and then I went to sleep because I had to get up early!" - Logical Work-Time, Getting Ready-time, Sleep-Time blocks...but no “ring the wife to tell her I’m safe” time.

So the wife has been up half the night while the man never called her and the man is wondering why his wife is so clingy and untrusting every time he travels!

This is the male example of doing one ’time compartment task’ such as working, I am not ’allocating’ focus on other time-compartments. It never enters my mind!

And here (for me anyway) is the main difference between men and women!

Women are true multi-taskers - when they are working they can also ’love’ their family, 'think' about their partner, 'worry' about what to prepare for dinner, 'arrange' the child’s calendar for next week, 'discuss' about a love relationship of a friend, 'organise' a beauty routine and 'select' clothing for tomorrow and a multitude of other things that are all seemingly unrelated (to the logical, compartmented man). And they do this effortlessly, on some type of ’continuum’ where all tasks have equal priority but momentary focus.
This means, when my friend says ’I’ve been thinking about you all day’, in fact this is true...somewhere, in the background of what she has been doing, the thought of me and my welfare, or our last argument or some issue in our relationship has been with my friend’s full-day thought.

I, in contrast, might think about it as I’m walking to the car or on my way home!

For me, I ’deal with it when I have to’ and as a consequence focus quite solidly on it - but if it doesn't get resolved, I will happily ’file it’ and move to the next task until time or circumstances comes around for me to resolve it. I can make a ’decision’ about it and carry it through without further discussion or consideration - I can assess what is best and set my heart and mind on this! Does this make me an unkind and heartless person, maybe, to my partner! But it is not necessarily a 'lack of concern' decision - I have weighed the pros and cons as I see them - and come to a conclusion and action plan.

In a male world, decisiveness is prized, but in a female world a more open consensus is probably required.

So what does this mean for me in my relationships?

It means I must be more aware of my ’present compartment’ when I am asked to do something different - and allow for changes not to throw me into a tailspin - but to acknowledge that my partner maybe cannot read my ’time compartment’ and make some emotional allowance for that. I would also hope my partner could learn some of these and know the ’dangerous’ times to not distract my attention!!!.

I must try to evolve a little so that when my partner wants to talk about next weekend on a Monday, I can listen and acknowledge and offer the peace - it may not be logical to me, but it’s somewhere on that continuum.

Lets see how it goes!

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(Showing 1 to 4 of 4) 1
#2012-07-29 11:34:10 by Serendipity33 @Serendipity33

Gareth, you seem to have it in a nutshell...when will your self help book be published...

PS...you use the word "Fat" many times in your blogs, in what may seem a rather derogatory way to self.I find that out of character to the person I see in the blogs written

#2012-07-30 02:38:36 by aku1234 @aku1234

You have hit the nail right on with this one!

Men are singletasking simple creatures and women are multitasking complicated creatures. This is true with Western women and although I am not an expert I expect this to be true with Chinese women, too. Throw in the cultural differences and language problems and you have got some major problems and headaches!

Haha, but Chinese women are so gorgeous and magnificent that I am willing to face the challenges. Makes my dull life more interesting, doesn't it?

#2012-07-30 14:18:15 by aussieghump @aussieghump

@Serendipity - I can't get around the fact that I am 6ft 4inches tall and around 180kg. In China, that is one foot too high - and 130kg too heavy!

One of the "nice" things about China is that you are constantly reminded by everyone who wants to state the 'obvious' as loudly as they can! - I hear 'fat' and 'big belly' about 300-400 times every day!

So yes, it is annoying and a constant reminder from 3 year olds to 80 year olds! But I have slowly gotten used to it and it doesn't bother me 'much' any more!

About the book...I keep talking about it to myself and anyone else who will listen and have written about half - on my enjoyment of China...one cold and wet winter sometime soon, I might just finish it!!! I have even got the title "Don't stand your chopsticks in the rice bowl - 101 things not to do in China!" - look for it on bookshelves sometime in the next 20 years!

#2012-08-01 11:12:55 by Serendipity33 @Serendipity33

lol yes Gareth, I understand that somewhat naive sense of stating the obvious to the point where its different somehow to a lack of tact in Western terms...look forward in the very near future in discovering it for my self first hand.
I'll look out for the book.....

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