Japanese Way of Working

Japanese companies have a different working atmosphere and often have a different way of working to European companies. We have prepared a few hints below which may be useful in helping to understand this unique perspective and may also assist in strengthening working relations.

– Develop your patience. Proposals, projects and suggestions often take longer to be accepted, but remember that when they are, you normally receive very good co-operation and back-up from your colleagues.

– Be diplomatic. In Europe, we have a way of being quite blunt. When discussing a difficult matter, you should approach it carefully and allow the management an easy way out of the situation without losing face.

– Be observant. The Japanese often signal their approval or disapproval of things in subtle ways and soft wording. Because we are not accustomed to this kind of behaviour, Westerners often completely miss the point. By observing closely, one can develop a feeling for this.

– Be flexible. If you are requested to do a task which is not strictly your job, remember that this is normal in Japan. Consider it a compliment that you have been asked to take care of the matter -it means that you have been seen as capable and responsible since you have been selected. Even if it is a „menial task“ such as making coffee, remember the Japanese do not distinguish as much as Europeans between menial tasks and „real work“. A job well done is a job well done. Consider the importance placed by Japanese on their tea ceremony or dressing in traditional garments or flower arrangement.

Such things which appear simple or unimportant to Europeans are viewed differently in Japan.

– Be polite. Japanese place a great deal of importance on being polite. This means showing respect to ones fellows and observing normal manners. Don’t worry about having to learn Japanese manners or customs -as long as you show respect and apply the normal good manners of your own culture, you will be appreciated.

– Be friendly. Disgruntled or unfriendly people are not appreciated in Japanese companies. While its true everyone has bad days and everyone has their own problems, the Japanese try hard not to inflict their own unhappiness on others.

– Be honorable. Honesty and responsibility are respected in many cultures on Earth, but are especially prized in the Japanese culture, because they have a long tradition of strict moral and social codes.

– Be modest. Modesty is a very respected quality in Japanese culture. In Europe we often strive to be the best and stand out, to make our mark and be recognised; in Japan, successful people defer the recognition of their individual performance and cite the group as the source.