Highly recommend Freakonomics podcast on sensitive questions . As a podcast, it is not that great as it mostly repeats, explains (in a great way) a research done by one team and also available on HBR.
But I feel it is important because it tells us that:
- We overestimate the offence taken by the person asked
- Are missing out by not asking sensitive, extremely personal questions
One of the researchers, Einav Hart, is an Israeli, and when asked about the differences between the Israeli and American cultures, she could not point to significant differences.
My experience in Japan was definitely different, but I now have doubts about my takes and my behavior.
In Israel, i had many experiences in which a waitress at the Cafe started chatting with me, which usually resulted in personal questions. Where do you live, what do you do and sometimes more than that.
In my experiences in Japan, I was unsure what I can and cannot ask, i had cases I received frowned faces or questions being ignored when I asked questions which were “a bit” personal… so I stopped. Meeting and chatting with people I do not know has resulted in me waiting for them to take the lead. If they ask personal questions, I will respond and open up. And if not, nothing will happen.
Maybe it is a good way not to hurt, but it is definitely missing out on interactions and communications. How may friends or life lessons did I miss out because I did not ask more, interact more, engage more ?
I now just have to wait for Covid-19 to go away before testing it. Definitely now is not a good time to talk with strangers.