Good knowledge of workplace etiquette can help you appear confident and be suave in the corporate world. Doing business in Japan can be rewarding if you learn how they do it. Contrary to how most greetings and gestures are conducted, the Japanese have a unique style of show-and-tell. Mainly, learning the basic Japanese Business Etiquette can help you appear invested and give you a cutting edge in making a long-term professional relationship with the Japanese.
Japanese are admired for their politeness to almost everyone they meet, be it friends or strangers. Many reasons could contribute to why having good manners is so important to them, such as their upbringing and teachings.
So, if the opportunity to Work in Japan ever arises, there are certain corporate etiquette that you must always keep in mind. These etiquettes will help you make a good impression, and also maintain a professional & meaningful relationship with your colleagues.
What are different types of Etiquette?
Though there are many types of etiquette, such as social etiquette, wedding etiquette, bathroom etiquette, eating etiquette, among many others.
In this particular article, let’s focus on business etiquette, particularly that of Japanese business etiquette.
What Is Business Etiquette?
Wikipedia defines business or work etiquette as “a code that governs the expectations of social behavior in a workplace.” This code is put in place to “respect and protect time, people, and processes.”
Why Is Etiquette Important In The Corporate World?
The importance of business etiquette is to conduct business deals ethically and effectively. It helps in making a workplace become a professional and respectful atmosphere that leads to improved communication, which is a must for employees to be productive and successful. Here, the role of the management is considered important because professionalism in business can create a good company culture.
Following are some important Japanese office etiquette you must always follow once you are in Japan
- The Japanese Greeting
Respect between colleagues and business partners is greatly emphasized in Japan. The Japanese greet one another with a bow, signifying honor between them. It is believed that the lower the bow, the higher the significance of respect the person holds. Gently bow with your head lowered, with your hands on either side of your body to make a good impression. If the person extends their hand for a handshake, you can return that alongside a bow to make for a complete greeting. Common times that call for this Japanese business culture are – the beginning and end of the ceremony, to express gratitude, to show empathy, while asking for a favor, or while bidding goodbye.
- Exchanging Business cards
Known as Meishi in Japanese, exchanging business cards is considered an important professional etiquette in Japan. The appearance and handling of Japanese visiting cards are considered an important characteristic of a person’s reputation for the Japanese. We recommend carrying a suitable case for your business cards so that they don’t look all crammed up and are well-pressed. When someone hands you their business card, examine it carefully and place it front-facing on your desk, to show respect for them.
- Removal of shoes
While attending any informal event, enter only after removing your shoes. In the Japanese business culture, the removal of shoes before entering any important place is quite a thing! Show some respect for the custom by leaving your footwear outside. Also, remember to have some clean socks on, walking barefoot may be frowned upon.
Sticking to timelines and deadlines is a sure-shot yes while doing business in Japan. The Japanese value reliability and need to trust you before they go ahead with any partnership. Keep a close look at the time and be observant. If due to an unavoidable circumstance, you aren’t able to follow through with the deadline, make sure to notify your colleagues and seniors in advance.
- Body Language
Be mindful of your body language. Excessive touching, laughter, or dramatic expressions are better to avoid while meeting with the Japanese. A firm back, straight shoulders and a solemn look go a long way in impressing your clients and colleagues. The Japanese are serious people when it comes to doing business and their communication etiquette, so avoid making any jokes or remarks that could offend the person or company.
- Dress Code
A black or grey suit with a white shirt, tie, and formal pants for men and a mild colored shirt to go with a formal skirt for women can be followed to set the business attitude tone in your attire.
We hope that this list of common Japanese business etiquette can help you make your meetings with the Japanese people smooth and successful.
All the best!
Until next time, Sayonara for now!