What happened when Maria decided to do nothing?

In this example Maria decided not to follow up with Tim.

As a consequence, Tim had made a presentation on a topic that she knew nothing about. She was unable to contribute and she ended up just standing quietly at the front of the class. She felt stupid and knew that her lecturer and peers would think that she had not been a part of the presentation, especially as the lecturer asked her a question, which she was not able to answer.

In this case doing nothing added to Marias fear of public speaking, as her worst case scenario became reality:

  • She was not prepared
  • She felt stupid in front of the class and her lecturer
  • She didn’t know how to answer her lecturer’s questions
  • Her grades may be affected

The whole situation has left Maria feeling like she never wants to work with another Australian student again. In addition, by doing nothing in this situation Maria has not been able to find out what might be going on for Tim, something that may have changed the outcome of this experience for both of them.

Let’s take a look at what is going on for Tim, and what Maria might have discovered if she had a conversation with Tim.

Tim is feeling:

  • Frustrated
  • That although Maria seems nice, she is not contributing at all
  • Like he’s the only one contributing ideas and it’s not fair

Tim mentions that Maria just “says yes to everything”, and sees this as Maria not being interested and leaving it all to him. However, as we know from Maria’s perspective, she isn’t saying yes because she genuinely agrees with everything Tim is saying or because she doesn’t have her own ideas. She is simply saying yes because she doesn’t understand everything Tim is saying, and she doesn’t want to be rude and ask him to repeat everything again.

By choosing to do nothing neither Tim nor Maria get to know what was going on for the other person. As a result, this experience may have a negative impact on their feelings towards working with students from different cultures in the future.

Let’s have a look at what might happen if Maria decides to have a conversation with Tim.