It is incredible how observing and adapting to another culture’s etiquette, opens paths towards more successful collaborations and negotiations. This is particularly important when those affairs happen in Japan, where they have an utter respect for their cultural heritage, making it an important element when it comes down to decision-making and further, the effectiveness of a professional relationship.

We’ve gathered a list of guidelines that can help you create a harmonious business relationship, while we’re absolutely certain that respecting these, would have a noteworthy, and most certainly, positive impact on your future affairs.

  1. Privacy: Even though in our culture asking personal questions is a way of building rapport and creating a closer relationship with your business associates, in Japan it is considered as being pushy or rude, as they value their privacy in an extensive way.
  2. Gifting: Gift-exchange is a very important part of Japanese culture while bringing a small gift to a primary business meeting is an important gesture that is quite necessary to be fulfilled. However, be careful of the connotation of your chosen gifts. Many objects have negative connotations in Japanese culture so we advise that you do your research before preparing a business gift.
  3. Patience: Trying to speed up decision processes may appear disrespectful towards their business culture. Try to adapt and use the long processes as an opportunity of closure, of building a harmonious business relationship.
  4. Seniority: Within a business setting, ranking is also defined by age, not just position. Whenever you find yourself in a group, try to treat the older executives in a more respectful manner than you do regarding the other participants in the conversation.
  5. Group over Individualism: The concept of team in Japan is considered significantly more important, rather than individualism. Toasting a single attendee that has been of great help for you is very likely to embarrass the individual. Rather, you should congratulate the whole team.
  6. Dress Code: Japanese dress code is quite conservative, specifically in business settings. Men wear business suits, while women wear clothing that isn’t too extravagant nor stands out. Furthermore, if women participate to a business meeting wearing heels, it is of great importance not to wear extremely high heels that would make her appear taller than over the Japanese counterparts.
  7. Dining Manners: Dining is a very important part of the Japanese business culture. However, your dining manners might be slightly studied. Get to know your chopsticks before getting to Japan.
  8. Politeness: Get yourself acquainted with the Japanese culture before getting there. Small gestures such as knowing how to greet the right way, are of maximum importance in a business setting. It is definitely not expected of you to know all their manner codes, however showing that you are trying it is greatly appreciated.

To conclude, Japanese business culture is quite a meticulous one, yet learning a few particularities can get you a long way. However, it is important that you remember that within any personal of professional gatherings, it is firstly an encounter between two individuals and only secondly between two cultures. It is great knowing all these hints of how to react when faced with difficult situations, but always remember that they represent guidelines, not rules. Always keep a human interaction humane.

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