Anyone who has spent time working with the Japanese knows that their thoughts, motivations, and priorities are often hidden from view.
The Japanese are more likely to rely on
Below is a list of six things that I’ve found even the most experienced business travelers don’t realize they don’t know about Japanese culture. How about you?
1. If you need a fork, be careful not to ask for itLet’s say you’re out to dinner with business associates in Japan when you notice the only utensils on the table are chopsticks — only you’re not a chopsticks person. Well have no fear because most Japanese restaurants you’re likely to visit will have a fork you can use. But don’t ask for it.
Effective communication in Japan is often indirect. Nuances, gestures, and
That’s why you won’t need to ask for a fork, here’s why you shouldn’t ask. The Japanese derive meaning from what is left ‘unsaid’ and rely on context. So asking for a fork could unintentionally signal that you have no desire to learn about their culture — e.g., if you’re unwilling to learn about chopsticks, how would you handle more critical business situations with bigger cultural differences?
By the way, did you know that when you go out for drinks, or play golf with the Japanese that they use those opportunities to evaluate your character?
2. They do say 'no,' and they say it oftenYou may have heard the Japanese say «yes» when they mean «no». If only it was that simple. In fact, the Japanese say «no» all the time. Just not in so many words, so to speak.
Avoiding confrontation, saving face, and keeping harmony are a few of the values that influence how the Japanese communicate disagreement, or for that matter anything they think could be upsetting to another person.
So while the word «no» is avoided, there are many ways the Japanese indicate they mean «no." Here’s just a few:
- Indicate that something might be difficult
- Tilt head, sucking air between teeth
- Confirm that they understand
- Suggest an unrelated alternative to the problem
- Change the conversation
- Stay silent
3. It’s better not to bow than to bow badlyBows are so integral to Japanese behavior that you’ll see the Japanese even unintentionally bowing to the person on the other end of a phone call.
But executing a correct Japanese bow can be a very complex matter. Social status, age, experience, and job position all come into play into how deep and how long to bow.
Because the Japanese won’t expect you to know all the intricacies involved, you won’t be expected to bow. A small bend at the waste though is a good idea, and will show just enough deference to their culture to be appreciated.
4. Meetings are not for brainstorming or decisionsQuestion: What is the difference between why Americans attend meetings and why Japanese attend meetings?
Answer: Americans send 1–2 people to a meeting to tell you everything they think you need to know. The Japanese on the other hand send 20 people to a meeting to learn everything you know.
In Japan, meetings are primarily held to acquire information. But ideas are discussed and decisions made through a long and involved consensus building
5. When to add '-san' to a coworker’s last name, and when to go sans '-san'Many who have worked with the Japanese have learned to append ‘-san’ to a person’s family name when addressing them. It’s actually just one of many Japanese honorifics used to identify the relationship and social hierarchy between two people.
But while there are many similarities to how we use ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms." titles in English, there are a few notable differences to using ‘-san.’
For example, in the U.S. customers and suppliers are on equal footing. In Japan relationships aren’t so balanced; the customer is deemed more important. As a gesture of deference, it is the custom to drop the '-san' at the end of a coworker’s last name when referring to him in your customer’s presence.
6. If you’ve said «Sayonara» to someone, you might as well have said «Farewell»There are a few words in Japanese that many Americans have heard at one time or another. And Sayonara is likely one of them. But it doesn’t exactly mean what most think it means.
A few years ago a colleague of mine, let’s call him John, told me how he learned what sayonara meant, the hard way. After months of discussion with a potential Japanese customer, a deal between the two companies finally looked imminent.
A meeting was set to go over some remaining details, at which time the Japanese customer mentioned to John that his competitor had come in with a new price quote that was significantly lower than John’s pricing.
When the Japanese customer asked if John could meet the price, John said it would be difficult, but that he would try. When the meeting ended, John turned to the customer and casually said, «Sayonara!»
The following week John contacted the Japanese customer to say that his company could match the competitor’s pricing. «But
You see, «Sayonara» doesn’t just mean «
The source of the article: 6 Things You Need To Know About Doing Business In Japan.