Tips for Doing Business in Japan

When it comes to doing business, each country has its own etiquettes and rules of engagement. But generally, global business is done using the western style, particularly the U.S. way.

Apparently, the same goes with Japan. In terms of doing business, customs have been already adjusted. However, when it comes to personal business meetings, or the traditional face-to-face meetings, some differences still exists in Japan.

Here are some useful tips and trick on how to conduct business meetings with the Japanese.

No Handshakes, Just Bow

Obviously, Japanese are not used into hugging and shaking-hands during meetings. They themselves used to bow with each other. This is particularly appropriate during business meetings. When greeting one another, Japanese used to bow genuinely and a handshake is no longer required. Though Westerners and other foreign locals usually offer their hand for a handshake, they should not feel offended or insulted if their gesture was ignored.

Business Cards

During meetings in Japan, casually exchanging business cards is very rude. Instead, upon meeting people face to face, use your both hands to give and receive the business card and bow while doing the exchange.

Avoid Overt Confidence, Be Humble

When dealing with the Japanese, politeness and indirectness is the key. Do not pursue a definitive yes or no answer on a certain matter.

Give them sufficient time to go and speak with their team until they come back with a response. Do not mistake their silence for hesitancy.

Invite them to Socialize

While Japanese are very conservative in their office environment, it is just usual to arrange meetings before or after in a more social venue. A dinner meeting followed by drinks is a perfect opportunity to talk about business in a more relaxed ambience. It may appear counterintuitive, but business decisions are oftentimes made on such occasions – also professional relationships improve between parties in those times. Take note that instead of using ‘cheers’, shout out for ‘kanpai!’ to get more bonus points.

Also, you must keep in mind that Japanese take off their shoes before entering any house, regardless if it’s his own house or another’s. They do it as a sign of respect to other people. While the practice is not literally applicable to the workplace, understanding such courtesy is imperative to understanding the Japanese better.

In addition, Japan is likewise a country with a particular set of rituals when interacting either socially or professionally. Even though the world tends to follow Western style of doing business, it is still important to be familiar and respectful of each local customs. So keep in mind the above said tips in order to keep a good business relationship with the Japanese.

Aizelle Joe

Philippines

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