Communicating Effectively While Doing Business In Japan

Finding Synergy with Cultural Differences
The art of effective communication between cultures extends beyond verbal language barriers. Differences in body gestures and behavior patterns are also noteworthy. Picture two people speaking different languages and communicating with gestures until one or both “gets it.” Confusion will clog the flow of communication until both willingly reach across their own communication barrier.

This is essential when attempting to do business in Japan. The smart business leader will ensure her or his message is interpreted correctly based on Japanese culture. Organizations can improve their competitive advantage to operate in a globalized business environment with cross-cultural communication training.

Generally, communication difficulties are recognized as one of the major dilemmas for conducting business in Japan. Evaluating behaviors and practices in Japan based on the individual’s personal background can lead to erroneous assumptions. To illustrate, subtlety and nuance epitomize communication behaviors in Japan. Instinctively, public statements may differ from what the person actually thinks.

Based on the individual’s personal viewpoint, the spoken word is what the other person believes. This individual may judge the Japanese person as being dishonest. Some consider this an ethnocentric thinking pattern by assuming one’s personal behavior is normal and any deviation is abnormal.

Behavior And Culture
Rather than judging the Japanese person’s behavior, the behavior is best viewed within the context of Japanese culture. Doing so is considered practicing cultural relativism, which requires the individual to look beyond his or her acceptable view of normal.

With this understanding, a businessperson should never make assumptions based on his or her cultural background. It is left to this person to discover possible hindrances to a successful business relationship. This demonstrates respect for differences and a willingness to discover what works best.

For some Japanese, English-speaking businesspeople are not easily understood. As a result, the need for precise use of clear language is very important. Decision-making and problem-solving become next to impossible to resolve. Vagueness from the Japanese and overstatements from an American may cause enormous problems while doing business in Japan.

Additionally, Japanese have a tendency to become silent during a stressful juncture within a business meeting. They do this to release the tension and give everyone a chance to step back from the difficulty. Their intention is to preserve the harmony needed to accomplish goals. Unfortunately, some westerners also misinterpret the silence and might attempt to press the issue. Knowledge of this subtle difference helps individuals recognize that a lack of body movement does not mean the Japanese are disengaged.

Cross-cultural training within organizations regarding multicultural communication behaviors can prepare western businesspeople to interact with their Japanese counterparts.

Communicating with the Japanese can be a bit confusing, especially during a business meeting.  Click here, doing business in Japan,
for some valuable insights to help you in the future.