Cultural Facts with Amanda

To showcase my love for diversity

May 11, 2013 – Japan

on May 11, 2013

I decided to write this post about Japan since Japan is a popular country to talk about. I wanted to make up for the fact that I haven’t posted in this blog in six months. It’s been so hectic! But I’ve graduated now and my life has slowed down a little bit. So, here goes. 

My source is Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway. BEST BOOK EVER. I highly recommend it if you ever plan to do business overseas. There’s too much information for me to compile it into one blog post without making the post extremely so I got some highlights.

The first thing to know about doing business in Japan is that the Japanese people don’t care for public displays of emotion. If you plan to do business with the Japanese, you’ll need to work on your poker face. If you let your true emotions show during a business meeting, Japanese people will think that you lack self control. The next thing to know is that the younger members of your business team should remain quiet during the business meetings. Japanese people show a great respect for elders and will honor their opinion more than younger business executives. It’s nothing personal, just a cultural thing. When working with Japanese people, they will ask you a lot of questions about what you do and what your job title is. They just want to know how they should speak to you.

The Japanese communicate in a high context manner. They don’t feel the need to verbally explain everything. Instead they use nonverbal cues. It is the direct opposite of how Americans communicate. 

Japanese people believe that they are genetically unique. Foreign medicines are often not allowed in Japan if there is no scientific evidence that says they are safe for Japanese people. The Japanese are very protective of their culture and very skeptical when it comes to foreigners who come to work and visit.

Japanese people are more subjective than objective. Individuals are more likely to change their own opinion to fit the group’s opinion. This form of communication also causes them to make decisions based on the group, rather than facts. An outsider must be accepted into the group before they can help make decisions. The Japanese people work hard every single day to avoid embarrassment, which makes them extremely likely to conform. They value their elders. There are distinct gender roles, where males are more dominant. However, with Japanese youth, there is a desire for gender equality. 

If someone bows to greet you, study the way they are bowing carefully. If you are about to bow to greet someone equal to you, bow with the same depth they did. The bow indicates the relationship between you two. 

Finally, you should know that Japanese people never say no. If they say something along the lines of “I’ll consider it” or “I’ll think about it” that probably means no. Politeness is a top priority for Japanese people so the phrase “I’m sorry” is extremely common. It’s important while you’re over there to be sure to show the most respect to older members of the group you may be dealing with. Don’t single people out and compliment them if you’re doing business with the Japanese. They’re more concerned with the group effort. Japanese people will not be upfront about what they expect from you. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time, happy reading! 

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