M 4
U
a
Select Page
We're here for you. Train online, facilitator led, using the world's most advanced simulation game.

It's time to replace stress with confidence.

“It was fun but before I knew it, I was negotiating better.”  

 
Updated: 11 Apr 2021

How to Behave in Japan: Appropriate Japanese Behaviour

appropriate-behaviour

Summary

There are limits to culture learning - it can distort or boomerang if maladaptive.Decide on the right nuance of culturally appropriate behavior.

by Dr. Bob March

WHEN IN JAPAN, BEHAVE AS THE JAPANESE DO.” IS THAT REALLY BEING CULTURALLY INTELLIGENT?

Deciding on the right nuance of culturally appropriate behavior in Japan is not easy. I used to work with Colorado-born Fred Hevers in Tokyo. He spoke astonishingly fluent Japanese, much better than mine. Impertinent though it was of me, I once suggested to him that he was far too polite when he spoke to many Japanese. He took it well, and seemed to ponder it.

We both moved on to other jobs. When we next met five years later, he was manning a stand as an investor at a Tokyo industry fair. Attending to some Japanese clients, Fred explained the product in his elegant Japanese. It was very impressive for a Westerner, save for the fact that it was – in my opinion, just as I remembered – far too polite and humble. Even listening made me feel uncomfortable.

I watched the Japanese clients while Fred spoke. It was soon clear to me that they were beginning to show – subtly, non-verbally – disdain and contempt. When they began leaving, Fred was effusive to the nth degree. As he neatly bundled up brochures and specifications, he handed them over ceremoniously, and bowed deeply, again and again, as they left the stand.

Appropriate Behavior in Japanese Society

I followed Fred’s customers a little way. Sure enough, once out of range, they expressed open contempt and scorn for Fred. Why? Putting myself in their shoes, the reason surely was that they saw Fred behaving as a mock-Japanese – a phony. The deep bows were, I thought, the final straw that may have strengthened any prejudices these Japanese held about Americans being insincere.

Fred was a good example of the American (or Australian) gone native. His case showed that there are limits to culture learning – it can distort or boomerang maladaptively. Fred needed more feedback of the kind I had offered him five years earlier, although I had only got a glimpse then of his counter-productive communication style.

Very likely, when he behaved in his “posh” Japanese manner, he was imitating some high-class Japanese gentleman he had once seen in an extremely formal and public situation. A situation where such behavior would have been acceptable and not appear ludicrous. Fred had never learnt this contextual or situational limit. He either truly believed such behavior appropriate in the product stand environment, or was afraid to try any other model. Did he perhaps fear he would make even bigger social mistakes?

Certainly, he would have known that he needed to be both polite and friendly in order to narrow the cultural distance. Instead of the big formal bows, a friendly nod of the head would have been sufficient. Regrettably, he decided to stick with what he did exceedingly well, even if some Japanese did, not so secretly, sneer at him.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 StarsRate this Article
5 out of 5 from 2 responses
Loading...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The commercial landscape has become increasingly competitive, with customers increasingly trying to commodities offerings to force discounting. Take your sales career to the next level by learning how to consistently close bigger deals in less time at higher margins. Read More
Investment per participant
$2,410USD
Early Bird Special:
-$241USD
Total investment
$2,169USD
Early Bird Special: -$241USD Ends 14 Feb 2022
Delivery: Online
14 Mar, 17 Mar, 21 Mar, 24 Mar, 28 Mar, 31 Mar 2022 (Monday, Thursday)
6 instructor-led half day sessions
11 am to 3:30 pm ET
8 am to 12:30 pm PST
Calum Coburn
855-980-0126
Procurement faces the double challenge of getting the best value deals from vendors, while at the same time managing internal stakeholder relationships. Cost savings initiative yields decreasing returns. Take your procurement career to the next level by learning how to consistently close the most complex of deals in less time while creating more value. Read More
Investment per participant
$2,410USD
Early Bird Special:
-$241USD
Total investment
$2,169USD
Early Bird Special: -$241USD Ends 14 Feb 2022
Delivery: Online
14 Mar, 17 Mar, 21 Mar, 24 Mar, 28 Mar, 31 Mar 2022 (Monday, Thursday)
11 am to 3:30 pm ET
8 am to 12:30 pm PST
Calum Coburn
855-980-0261
Whether you're aware of it or not, you've been negotiating your whole life. We negotiate with our colleagues, customers, suppliers, bosses, family and friends. We negotiate for business agreements, higher pay, a better job, our home or car. We only get to choose whether we negotiate better or worse than others. Read More
Investment per participant
$1,440USD
Early Bird Special:
-$144USD
Total investment
$1,296USD
Early Bird Special: -$144USD Ends 14 Feb 2022
Delivery: Online
14 Mar, 17 Mar, 21 Mar, 24 Mar 2022 (Monday, Thursday)
4 instructor-led half day sessions
11 am to 3:30 pm ET
8 am to 12:30 pm PST
Calum Coburn
855-980-0126