Obtrusive or intrusive?

By Tin Bartolome

Posted at Jan 24 2015 01:08 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2015 09:08 AM

Over the holidays, I received the same reminder more than ten times from the Department of Health, warning me of the dangers firecrackers pose and the expense I could incur if I am injured by one. I remember having complained a few times about receiving computer-generated calls from a telephone company advertising its new services during siesta time. A while back, I also complained about another telecom server’s policy of actually calling postpaid subscribers about their bills. I said that a great part of my job then was doing interviews on camera and that disruptions like that posed delays and other complications for me. Cashiers at fastfood counters who ask if I want to upsize my drink, order extra cheese or dessert annoy me. Very recently, I got a private message from a health and lifestyle coach inviting me for an orientation. I told her that I consider these very personal issues and that I did not take such messages positively.

No Exemptions

Are they intrusive or obtrusive? I felt they were both but I had to look both words up and found this:

To be intrusive is to involve oneself into the affairs of others, generally in an objectionable manner, tactlessly but not necessarily in a way that calls attention to oneself. To be obtrusive, by contrast, is to interfere without regard for propriety or subtlety. They therefore can apply to the same situation, but intrusive emphasizes the effect on the recipient of the attention, while obtrusive focuses on how the attention is perceived from the outside. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/intrusive-vs-obtrusive/

Those phone calls are very aggressive marketing ploys that may seem effective--up to a point. To avoid embarrassing others, we sometimes accommodate and handle such intrusions politely. Sometimes, when forced to make a quick decision--like when we’re asked if we want to upgrade our drinks or add cheese to our burgers, we just say yes--we accommodate. We say yes because that’s the surest way to avoid conflict. We Filipinos tend to give the best to people we do not know very well--we serve the best portions in our best vessels to visitors or mga “bisita”--ibang tao. But when the visitor is no longer ibang tao, we say, “hindi ka bisita” meaning “hindi ibang tao” and would partake of whatever we have on hand. This does not mean we are putting up a false front or pakitang tao. It simply shows that we are truly a hospitable people. But if we look more closely, our way of interacting with others is much more complex than that. Dr. Virgilio Enriquez, the Father of Filipino Psychology, describes eight levels of interaction: from “ibang tao” to “hindi ibang tao”, the most intense of which goes even beyond empathy--pakiki-isang dibdib. Its core concept is kapwa.

Necessarily therefore, research methods must also be appropriate to our culture. So methods like Pagmamasid, Pagtanung-tanong and many others were developed.

“Imported” or transplanted social research methods need reconsideration because these were not made with the Filipino in mind. Concepts like utang na loob, hiya and bahala na were extensively explained by Dr. Enriquez and other Sikolohiyang Pilipino advocates from the Filipino point of view. Foreigners who do not think or behave the way we do may not understand the nuances of these traits. And because their works are everywhere--or at least regarded as superior (perhaps the methods and tools they use are expensive), these prevail.

Marketing strategies based on research using foreign frameworks may produce immediate results. But how reliable are these especially if you want a long-term relationship with your clients? Being “one of them” sincerely--in thought, word and deed--means knowing their wants and needs, and considering their situations. This would be difficult if the aim is to get them to spend money on what we do or manufacture.

Money-making endeavors or businesses that give back may be more desirable than others, more so if their marketing strategies do not invade privacy or disrupt work or personal schedules. It’s bad enough if they intrude--more so if they are obtrusive!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.