Filipinos & Compliments

What is it about giving and receiving compliments that most Filipinos find unnerving? Why is our ‘accepted’ mode one of negativity and suspicion? Can’t someone show and express observational appreciation for and about another person without having an agenda?

I think that so many socio-cultural cancers in Philippine society could be counteracted by simply being more appreciative of one another and by expressing such appreciation to one another. More than that, I think we have to go beyond just saying ‘Thank You’ or ‘That’s Great’ or some other phrase. We have to be detailed, what was it exactly about the service you received that you found exceptional? What did the person do for you that nobody else can do? What was so special about the experience? What impeccable quality did the locally made bag you bought have.

Compliments only become real if it involves some sort of risk or vulnerability – basically this means that what your are says must really be something meaningful and it should show how you feel for it to mean anything. If you’re new to the business of compliments here’s a simple guide:

I like/appreciate/love __________. It was__________. Thank you.

Ex. Boss to employee. I really appreciate all the effort you’ve put into this presentation. It was a very creative way of presenting our ideas. Thank you.

With a spiel like this you have to make sure your timing is good. Don’t just blurt it out as the person exits the door. Call the person’s attention first and look him/her in the eye and give your compliment. Include a handshake (or depending on how close you are to the other person, touch his/her shoulder or arm or hold their hand).

Try sincerely complimenting at least 3 people a day for a week. See how different people will respond to you.


Guita T. Gopalan

Let’s Make Great Things Happen!

facebook  twitter  linkedin  googleplus  tumblr  youtube  slideshare  wordpress

5 Things I Learned about Doctors

Originally on 5 Things I Learned – February 15, 2011 (after a particularly long day at the doctor’s office)


1. Patience is required.

Over the past few months I’ve had to visit my doctor quite a lot and the waiting can be really frustrating. I’d wait for a minimum of 30 minutes (and so far a maximum of 2 hours) to speak with my doctor for a minimum of 4 minutes (and so far a maximum of 15 minutes). I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.

Having patients wait is the most efficient from the doctor’s perspective. Unlike business meetings, you can’t peg down how long a specific doctor’s appointment will be. Sometimes a visit can last 2-3 minutes-just a quick “how are you-I’m feeling good-Come see me next week” kinda conversation with your doctor. Or it can take longer (that usually means there’s something seriously wrong with the patient or the patient is being inquisitive or difficult.) The point is, for the doctor-you don’t really know what to expect until the patient gets there and starts talking. So having patients be patient, sorry for the pun, is the most efficient for the doctor. Note that, the doctor actually wants to speed things along. S/he wants to accommodate more patients in a day as that would mean more consultation fees.

The clinic I go to, Healthway Shangri-la Mall has a system in place…that at least makes waiting more palatable. There’s a numbering system so you sort of have an idea of when you will be called. They also SMS you when the doctor is in, etc.  But waiting anywhere from 10mins to 2 hours  is inevitable.

So I started thinking of a system where both doctors and patients are happy. Imagine this:

  • Register to see your doctor. This can be done online 24 hours before the doctors’ consultation schedule. Put in the necessary personal info if its your 1st time or just pull up your records if your a regular patient. It’s important that the patient has a functioning mobile number.
  • The system sends an SMS to the patient 2 hours before the doctors’ consultation schedule to advise the patient a) the doctor is coming and b) what number they are and around what time they should be at the doctors’. It asks the patient to confirm via SMS that they will be visiting the doctor.
  • Patient #1, #2 and #3 should be at the doctors’ when consultation time starts. The doctor sees him/her – pulls up the patient’s records on the computer. This signals the system that the appointment has begun and prompts the system to send an SMS to Patient #4 that the doctor is seeing Patient #1 and that Patient #4 should be at the doctors’ in 15 minutes or something like that. When it’s Patient #2’s turn, Patient #5 is alerted, and so on.

It isn’t a perfect system (I just thought of this as I was waiting for the doctor earlier) but I’m sure there’s a way to leverage SMS technology to make visiting the doctor more time efficient than it currently is.

Another reason why patience is necessary – sometimes the effects of treatment (or even the treatment itself) takes some time. You might even feel worse before feeling better.

2. The more data you supply the doctor, the better.

People avoid medical check-ups and visiting the doctors under the illusion that ‘what I don’t know won’t hurt me.’ But when it comes to health this is more than just an illusion it is dangerous. However, even when patients are with a doctor, they’d rather be vague (and even lie) about what’s going on with them.

Do you know the show House? The main protagonist, Dr. Greggory House, an expert diagnostician, believes that patients (and their families) lie all the time. Thus as a doctor and diagnostician, if you depend on what the patient tell you-the lies, you won’t be able to get to the root of the problem.

Take note (literally, write it on paper) of what you are feeling, how often, how severe, where exactly, etc. anything that has to do with your body and what’s wrong with it so you can give your doctor some data. It helps him/her diagnose you faster.

Don’t hold back information about yourself – your addictions, your lifestyle, etc. Something minor to you may greatly affect your treatment.

3. Look for a doctor you are comfortable talking to.

If you can’t talk to your doctor then it’s going to be hard for him/her to monitor your health or address your health problems. You need to be able to tell him/her things that are weird, yucky, personal –  what’s going on with your body (and sometimes even your mind).

You need to be comfortable asking the questions you need to ask. There is no such things as a dumb question. Your doctor should answer them. If you don’t ask questions, your doctor will assume you understand whatever he/she said.

On the flip side, the doctor’s demeanor should be one you are comfortable with, whether its business-like or friendly. If you are intimidated by your doctor, it will be very difficult to establish a good relationship.

4. A doctor is a profession.

Doctor’s work as doctors. It is thier income earning activity. Even for the most generous and self-sacrificing of doctors have to put food on the table. The most common way they earn is through consultation fees. They make you see them routinely for check-ups or follow-ups so that they earn consultation fees every time you visit them. If the doctor can manage it, s/he will see you more often than really necessary. In my experience, the doctor assumed that because I had a company health card all my visits were company paid. So she had me come see her more often than what was really necessary. But I was paying for them…at one point two-thirds of my salary for the month went to paying the doctor and the tests.

Cash strapped patients shouldn’t be shy about expressing their difficulties with the doctor. They are human, they know financial and health troubles. Besides, if you find that your doctor is overly concerned about the ‘money’ then he/she may not be the best doctor for you.

5. Doctors appreciate appreciation.

Being a doctor is more than just being able to identify the problem and knowing how to and being able to solve it. Doctors endeavor to be emphatic to their patients to rejoice in their good health and to provide strength when there are health problems. Express your appreciation to your doctor – kind words, asking “How are you?” or “How’s your day so far?”, wishing them well, saying “Thank You!”…etc. It matters to them :D

Guita T. Gopalan

Let’s Make Great Things Happen!

facebook  twitter  linkedin  googleplus  tumblr  youtube  slideshare  wordpress

5 Things I Learned About Thinking About Death

Originally on 5 Things I Learned – March 12, 2011

I think about death everyday. Seriously! It’s something I started doing as a teenager. I daydream about death-other persons as well as mine. The scenarios are unlikely but often a real possibility such as my entire family dying in one fell swoop either from a vehicular accident or a house fire/explosion. I’ve thought of friends committing suicide and being killed (foul play). I’ve thought about the death of people who are important to the people who are important to me. I think about how I could die tomorrow or soon. I know it seems morbid…but really it’s not. I’m not wishing for death, mine or anyone else’s though truthfully sometimes I get so involved in my daydreaming that the scenes that play out in my head bring me to tears. Why do it (again and again) if it brings such sadness… well because every time I do it, I learn something important about myself, my relationships and about life and living.

1) I realize how meaningful a person is to me.

We all know the saying ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ Death is the ultimate ‘gone-ness.’ There’s no coming back from it… things that are left unsaid are unsaid, hurtful words we were never able to apologize for plague us who are alive, etc. Therapy, counseling and healing techniques for dealing with pain regarding a deceased loved one are corrective. And sadly more people do not get to fully heal from such a loss.

For someone like me who can be so ‘busy,’ it’s so easy for me to overlook the people in my life and how I feel about them. But when I think about them being gone, I remind myself that this person is important to me. Sometimes, I have even surprised myself with the intensity of the feeling of loss – I realize then that a certain person apparently meant so much more to me than I knew.

2) I am motivated to show that appreciation.

Gary Chapman in his book the 5 Languages of Love, talks about how we give and receive love differently. It is as if there is a filter saying this is how to love and this is what it feels like to be loved. The five languages of love are as follows: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Because I am reminded how important someone is to me, I am motivated to cultivate my relationship with him/her by communicating my appreciation and love. In the end there are only two things I want the other person to know: he/s is special to me, that I love him/her.

It takes a lot of work to cultivate relationships but its rewards are incomparable.

3) I get to visualize how I will respond to such events in the future. If I don’t like it, I can work on it now.

What if I found out when exactly I would die? Would I be one of those people that rush to cram doing everything they left for later between now and when they would die? Would I be someone who recoiled into herself at the idea that I would be dying, pushing everyone away? (For a time, that was the image that popped into my head when I thought about my own death. I’m working on figuring out why that is so. So far I’ve realized it has something to do with my having to be strong, independent and my fear of connecting with others).

When I think about other people dying, I try to see how I would react. Would I breakdown at the thought of losing my whole family? Could I survive it if my best friends died? Would it matter to me if people that rubbed me the wrong way passed away?

4) I am prompted to take note of the little things. (Well it’s one of the things I’m working on)

Again, I tend to rush through my day, observing and taking note only of what seems useful. So sadly, I have missed out on the random things that color my world, that lift me up, that inspire me, that make me feel alive, that give me joy. I’m learning to be more present to my self in my day… It is in the little things-glancing at the floor and finding a 100 peso bill, the unexpected smile from the stranger you cross on the street, a man holding the door for you as you enter, the giggle of a young toddler, the vibrancy of the color of a flower…

5) I am reminded to be present today, to enjoy each moment of life, to live now.

A moment comes but once…other moments may be similar but each moment is unique, never to be experienced again. For as we experience each moment, we are changed. We can never experience experiences again…all we have is today to savor it and embed it in our memories.


Guita T. Gopalan

Let’s Make Great Things Happen!

facebook  twitter  linkedin  googleplus  tumblr  youtube  slideshare  wordpress

The ASIDE Vision

ASIDE was a separate blog I started just this July. However, after a while I realized I should just collapse it into this blog because in the end it’s still my thoughts. I still dream of building, creating, establishing ASIDE in the real world. So for now ASIDE is a category in this blog. :D Enjoy

I believe the way to improve the quality of life of Filipinos and other Asians is through design, innovation and entrepreneurship directed towards addressing social problems.

In the course of my work, my studies, my research and my day to day life, I encounter people, ideas, initiatives, enterprises, designs, etc. directed towards alleviating poverty, improving health and sanitation, providing livelihood, and the like and most importantly these are simply amazing.

ASIDE is all about sharing the amazingness of social innovation, design and entrepreneurship (SIDE) ideas, personalities, initiatives, etc. 

Pretty basic right, but why focus on Asia? Well for one, SIDE as a development paradigm are in their infancy in the region. Most knowledge, practices, standards etc. come from the US, UK, EU and others. Their social problems are drastically different from that of Asia. In addition their appreciation of Asian social problems is different (not ineffective or unhelpful – just different). There is a need to re-frame these concepts and customize them for Asia, the countries in the continent, and the specific localities.

ASIDE seeks to stimulate thinking and discussion to both expand and localize SIDE in the hopes that such will spur more SIDE for and by Asians.   

There is so much more that ASIDE can become…so as with everything about ASIDE…here’s what ASIDE is About, what I envision (a working description).


Guita T. Gopalan

Let’s Make Great Things Happen!

facebook  twitter  linkedin  googleplus  tumblr  youtube  slideshare  wordpress