Japanese Business Behavior

Japan is a very traditional country, with business ethics being a major foundation. When dealing with the Japanese in a business atmosphere, there are rules people must follow. Such rules permeate communications and translations as well.

These traditions are seen to have many positive effects because traditions are associated with the harmony of people. One of these strong traditions lies within career placement and retirement. When hired by a company, it is expected that you will work for them until retirement. Careers may be switched on average up to five times in other major countries, but this is not customary in Japan.

Strong relationships are created through a lifetime agreement, and learning is seen to exponentially grow with these arrangements. However, most people are only ever introduced to one task, and may not look for personal satisfaction or higher salaries.

Another strong point of agreements is the finalizing of proposals. It is respectful in Japanese business to say “yes” many times when listening to a proposal. Though this is noted to not be an acceptation of contract terms. The respectfulness of listening is important, and the agreement will be accepted or declined upon the final proposal.

Communication Insights on Japanese Business Behavior

  • Address executives as an extension of their organizations
  • Whenever you say "you" Japanese may think you are addressing their companies instead of the individual
  • Remember Japanese are not as mobile in their careers as other people. Suggesting to a professional in Japan to change employer would look really bad
  • Formal is always the right tone. Only venture in the informal realm after your Japanese counter-party has started doing so
  • Avoid abrupt interruptions. Wait until the others are finished with their speeches and only then address any concerns

Authority

A person’s authority is very important in Japanese business due to respect. This authority is generally shown through a business card. Business cards are a pretty important exchange in meetings. Unlike most exchanges that occur after a meeting, business cards are exchanged before the meeting in Japan. A card shows the employees significance to a company, and how much respect they must receive in a meeting when speaking.

Some believe this tradition relates back to the respect of a monarchy and its ruler. Also, before dealing with the business aspects of a meeting, it is customary to socialize with everyone who is taking place in the agreement. Social interactions generally occur throughout a day’s time, where the following day remains for business. The Japanese believe that if a social connection cannot exist then the business atmosphere will suffer.

Translation Insights on Japanese Authority

  • Make sure your business cards are professionally translated
  • Business cards are a must in business trips to Japan
  • Avoid fancy titles when doing business in Japan. If your company has such fancy titles, make sure you adapt their translations to make easier for your Japanese counter-parties to clearly understand your role in your organization

Gifts

While most western countries consider gift giving a form of bribery, it is seen as a type of sentiment in Japan. A gift’s value is generally appropriated to the type of position the receiver holds. The most acceptable forms of gifts are generally food or alcohol. Giving too many gifts can be considered inappropriate. Although it is a strong tradition, gift giving is starting to decline due to the business world’s views on the practice.

Suggestions for Gift-Giving in Japan

  • Illustrated books may be a nice gift to give in Japan
  • If your business colleagues in Japan will have a long-term relationship with English-speaking executives, consider giving them an online or DVD- based English language course
  • Gifts like books and language courses are affordable and more useful than food or alcohol

Nemawashi Emergence

Nemawashi is a Newmawashi Business Tactic where initial plans are always developed before continuing with a project of innovation. This idea has fueled growth in Japanese markets for decades. The success of their business and technological industries relies heavily on efficient and reliable communications, labor, transportation, and energy. A better understanding of the Nemawashi concept is particularly important for Westerns implementing a change-based process or business in Japan.

Current State of the Japanese Culture

It is stated by some known archaeologists that the Japanese culture has existed over 2,000 years. The culture of Japan has been distinct from several other cultures around the globe. The culture in modern Japan is more of a mixed style. The older conservative Japanese culture in the 3rd century was heavily dominated by the Chinese culture. The modern Japanese culture is more inclined to western style, which has mainly happened after the rapid improvements in the economy of Japan.

Westerns connecting with Japanese

  • If you follow these simple rules in this post you may be able to create a life-long connection with your Japanese business colleagues. Japanese people see the western, specially the United States, with a lot of respect






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