It’s Tuesday, so let’s get back to my SIR series! For today’s installment, let’s look at a different area of SIR, Tigpataliwala, or the “Go Between”. The go between is critical in the day to day functioning of Philippine society, so it is important for us foreigners to learn about it and understand what it is all about.
Here is what my study materials have to say about the go between:
TIGPATALIWALA ~ “Go Between”
The use of a go-between or mediator is a common means of restoring or preserving smooth interpersonal relations.
Common situations where a go-between would be used: an embarrassing request, a complaint or a difficult decision to be communicated.
I think that most of us who have been around the Philippines even a little bit have heard of the go-between and how it is used to approach people in difficult situations. I have been thinking about this in preparation for this article, and I don’t remember any specific example of using a go-between myself, although I am sure that I must have done so in some situation.
The funny thing about this is that just a few days after I received these study materials, I was actually called upon by someone to act as a go-between in a difficult situation. Having not been trained (formally or informally) on how to handle this situation, I just thought it through, and used my common sense to act in a way that I could try to remain neutral in the situation, listen to the situation from one party, and pass it on to the second party without interjecting my own feelings into the situation. I am not 100% certain that I handled the situation as a Filipino would, but I can report, happily, that the situation seems to have been resolved between the two parties. I am happy about that, and I feel some success was achieved in my first experience in acting as the go-between.
For us (foreigners), we don’t tend to use the go-between much, I think. We are direct people, and if we have something to say to somebody, we just say it. Sometimes, I feel that that the direct approach is more successful, other times, it might be better to use a go-between. I would say that if we have a problem with a Filipino, using the go-between is the best way to handle the situation with a minimum of hurt feelings, and a maximum possibility of success.
How about you? Have you ever used a go-between to keep your relationship on-track? Have you ever acted as a go-between? Let me know, I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences.