An Introduction to Japanese Business and Work Culture
Experiencing a different culture is one of the great joys of travel. This short blog will help you have a stress-free time while in Japan for business meetings and conventions and will help you in your dealings with Japanese people, businesses, and society in general.
Meeting and Greeting in Japanese Culture for Business
What is common in Europe is not necessarily accepted in Japan when greeting someone for business purposes. In Europe we tend to greet by handshake, but in Japan it is common to bow when addressing people. Bows are used in a variety of circumstances: to thank someone, to ask someone for a favour, when apologising, when praying and worshipping and when you first meet or say goodbye to someone.
It is also important to note that how deeply you bow measures the respect that you have in relation to the individual you are greeting. A 15-degree bow can be used for informal addressing, 30 degrees for someone that may be older than you or in a higher position, and a 45-degree bow, when you look directly down at your feet, is for when you are in contact with superiors and for any time when the situation that you are in demands additional respect.
Privacy in Japanese Business and Work Culture
This is another prime example of how things can differ greatly from country to country. In the West, it is common to ask certain personal questions to build rapport. In fact, that is generally the best way of establishing a relationship with someone. However, in Japan, it is quite the opposite. Privacy is considered valuable by the Japanese. Hence, when doing business in Japan, it will serve you well if you follow this practice: Refrain from asking personal questions and opinions right at the beginning of a business relationship, and only share when you sense there is reciprocity in the conversation.
Meishi – Exchange of Business Cards in Japanese Culture
The ritual of exchanging meishi, which is Japanese for ‘business card,’ is a much higher valued practice in Japan than in the West. Business card etiquette is one of, if not the most, important areas of Japanese business culture.
Exchanging business cards is a crucial part of networking in Japan. It acts as an icebreaker when meeting for the first time and gives your counterpart a first impression of you and your company. Business cards are considered an extension of yourself and the people you are meeting. Therefore, in Japan care is taken to hand over your business card with two hands. Similarly, you should receive the business card you are given with two hands. Bow your head and say thank you. You will have many opportunities to exchange business cards in Japan, so make sure that you arrive prepared!
Japan is a country with considerable business opportunities and is a great choice if you are considering international expansion. Familiarising yourself with Japanese business culture can give you an edge over your competitors in the relevant markets. However, if you are unsure about how to tackle the various norms and rules in the country, then it is wise to seek assistance.
As a cultural training provider, Dialogue can guide you on the right path when it comes to understanding Japanese culture in depth and prepare you for starting your business venture in Japan in 2022.