Do you now find yourself working in Japan and seeking to strike profitable business deals? Then, aside from your expertise, you must also be fluent in business etiquette in Japan.
Many find it captivating that Japan is renowned for its exceptionally high levels of social harmony. We’re not surprised. The expression best describes the Japanese people, “the nail that sticks out is hammered down,” because their culture is firmly based on social solidarity. Working together as a unit is highly valued in Japanese companies. So naturally, this means that you need to be well-versed in business etiquette in Japan if you plan to do well in your career there. To win over Japanese clients, you may stand out in the business world while maintaining familiarity with Japanese culture and customs.
So, if you want a head start in your professional life in Japan, let’s begin studying some basic Japanese business etiquette right now!
Tip #1 – Hierarchy
First, let’s brush up on the most basic Japanese manner of respecting senior person and their status in society, including Japanese people who are not close to you. This is both fundamental knowledge and an important part of Japanese business etiquette. Then, here are some details on how to act around more senior people.
- Never address a Japanese counterpart by their first name unless you are given permission. Also, remember to add さん (san) after their surname.
- Among Japanese business people, you should use formal titles when addressing them.
- The most senior person will always lead the conversation in the meeting.
Tip #2 – Business Attire
In Japan, business attire is typically formal and very conservative, so most Japanese companies require you to wear proper business clothing.
The Standard Dress Code
Suits are the standard dress code for both sexes, while blazers and skirts are acceptable for women. Always put your best foot forward by dressing professionally and adequately, paying close attention to minor details.
Suits and dress pants are typically worn in darker colors like black, navy blue, or dark gray, while shirts are usually worn in white or pastel colors. Men also frequently wear neckties. Do not wear something too fashionable or shiny, as this can be misinterpreted as a lack of professionalism.
The first impression is the most important when seeing a Japanese business partner. As personal presentation is highly valued in Japanese business culture, it is essential to pay attention to grooming. Groomed hair and well-manicured nails are both socially expected.
Tip #3 – Business Card
You should have a high-quality Japanese business card printed with your name, title, and contact information in both English and Japanese, as the Japanese emphasize quality and attention to detail. Also, it’s important to have enough business cards on hand whenever you travel on a business trip. You may look unprofessional if you don’t have enough business cards to hand out to everyone at the meeting.
Giving A Business Card
It’s proper etiquette to offer a business card to a potential client or employer by holding it in both hands, text facing the recipient. It’s also important to bow while giving a business card.
Receiving A Business Card
Always use two hands to accept a business card and give it a thorough reading before putting it away. It’s also typical to show respect by mentioning or inquiring about the card, the sender’s job, or the business they work for.
Tip #4 – Business Meeting
The formal format is followed in most business meetings in Japan. The first three tips we mentioned earlier are necessary right now. Therefore, punctuality and a professional appearance are essential. It’s common for attendees to exchange business cards before the meeting begins. It’s crucial to concentrate and speak clearly and gently during the discussion. Here is more on how to act at a business meeting.
- Hierarchy: pay attention to who is in power and how to act appropriately around them.
- Senior first: meetings often begin with the most senior person in the room making an opening statement or introduction before discussing the meeting’s topic and goals.
- Harmony: since the group’s goals are prioritized in Japanese society, its members are more likely to listen and nod in agreement before voicing their own opinions.
- Email follow-up: after a meeting ends, it’s usual to communicate through email or set up a new appointment.
- Show gratitude: it’s crucial to express appreciation and thank others for their contributions.
Tip #5 – Business Dinner
It’s typical to take Japanese business partners to enjoy a wonderful dinner after a long meeting. Business dinners sometimes help to keep a business relationship. Similarly to how Japanese business meetings are structured, so are business dinners. Here are some other manners you should keep in mind.
- Pour drinks for others before pouring for yourself.
- Wait for the most senior person to start eating before starting to eat yourself.
- Listen carefully throughout dinner so that you can participate intelligently in the discussion.
- Express appreciation to the host and other attendees.
Useful Vocabulary For Business Etiquette In Japan
Here are some Japanese vocabulary related to business.
|Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., -san (add after a person’s name or position)||さん||San||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]さん[/Speechword]|
|Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., -sama (add after a person’s name or position)||様||Sama||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]様[/Speechword]|
|Business card||名刺||Meishi||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]名刺[/Speechword]|
|Company||会社||Kaisha||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]会社[/Speechword]|
|Office worker/employee||会社員||Kaishain||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]会社員[/Speechword]|
|Clients/customer||顧客||Kokyaku||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]顧客[/Speechword]|
|Meeting||会議||Kaigi||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]会議[/Speechword]|
|Economy||経済||Keizai||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]経済[/Speechword]|
|Business trip||出張||Shutchō||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]出張[/Speechword]|
|Overseas business trip||海外出張||Kaigai shutchō||[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]海外出張[/Speechword]|
There are many details of Japanese business manners, so you must be familiar with Japanese business culture to do well in your career. It may seem like a lot to prepare but believe us, it’s worth developing yourself to gain more opportunities in the future!
However, knowing how to correctly hand out a business card will only get you a little far in the Japanese business world. First, you’ll need to brush up on your Japanese if you want to communicate fluently with your Japanese colleagues and clients. Then you need to get the language-learning app that will make everything easier on a higher level!
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