Japan: The fifth thing you should know about Japan

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And the last, fifth thing: it is necessary to develop and learn to perceive that the Japanese have a completely different form of communication than the Europeans. The Japanese do not want to touch their partners, there is a considerable distance from people who do not know each other, they don´t shake hands, people bow when they meet. Speaking about it, on the other hand, if we meet a Japanese in Europe, meaning abroad, they shake hands. I have seen many Europeans, Czech but also Americans who asked me if to shake hands with a Japanese or not. I would give you a simple advice: if you are not in Japan and you are in your own territory, you should rather shake hands because the Japanese will not know and will not be sure and will ask himself the same question. You will solve the problem for him, you will shake his hand and it will be ok. But let´s go back to the fifth important thing: the general approach of Japanese to business and to communication is very careful and they don´t want to touch their partners. I have been working with Japanese for 13 years now but, I only heard it a few times but less than once a year that you would hear a strict NO from a Japanese. They make efforts not to irritate, not to make their partner or business partner angry, they are talking around, they nod their head and say yes, in Japanese hai hai, and it means they understand but sometimes they do not understand, they can smile which hides their hesitation. But otherwise they nod their head to show they understand but it does not yet mean they agree. If you ask them directly, which is not a very good idea either, but if you start to approach the key question and when they say, for example: “well, it is somewhat difficult“, it means they in fact refuse. In Japanese, there is a sentence they use: “kore ha chotto muzakashii desu ne“ which means “this is a bit complex, isn´t it?“ which is in fact a refusal. The Czech and foreign entrepreneurs should take it into account if they want to succeed on the Japanese market and not place their goals or feelings from a meeting too high. However, if there is enough patience, enough studies of local habits, using experts who know the Japanese and enough reliability on the Czech side, there is no reason why they should not succeed on the Japanese market.

Author of the article: Ondřej Votruba
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