Proper business etiquette is essential in conducting business abroad. Embracing the business customs and cultural nuances of other countries can be the difference between closing a deal or landing a job. In Japan, it is incredibly easy to make a mistake as the country has a unique balance of tradition, history, modernity and customs.
If you are interested in finding a job in Japan or closing, make sure to follow these 4 tips to conduct business in Japan most effectively:
1. Expect a Group Focus
In some Western countries, the emphasis is placed on individuality. If you rise up and perform well, you will find success. However, in Japan, there is more of a focus on the group, according to language training firm Kwintessential. This means you can expect a high level of compromise and discipline. Also, be prepared to work in a group setting and have your success measured as a whole.
2. Be Prepared to Show Respect
While respect is an important tenet of all professionals, it is even more vital in Japan, the news source noted. While conducting business in this country, make sure you show respect to everyone. You need to pay attention to your body language, word choice, etiquette and other subtle details, so you don't accidently offend anyone.
3. Age is the Same as Seniority
Bruna Martinuzzi, author and contributor to the American Express OPENforum, wrote in an article that age is vital in Japan. Age is seen as the primary factor in seniority at a company. Japan places a huge emphasis on respecting their elders. This is contrary to the United States where age discrimination is frowned upon and it isn't uncommon to see 20-30 year olds in the C-suite. Never interrupt or disagree with an elder's opinion in a group setting in Japan. It is best practice to express any concerns with someone your age who can relay the information through the proper channels to the senior member.
4. Don't Forget Your Business Cards
Business cards are useful, but many professionals are leaving them at home in favor of LinkedIn, QR codes or even Twitter. Not in Japan, Martinuzzi explained. Japanese professionals will hand you a business card. You must accept it with both hands and read it. Make sure to put the card away in a safe place or keep it within arm's length. It is a big sign of disrespect if you do not keep the business card or accidentally forget it on the table.