It is so weird because some people tell me that I avoid eye contact even though I do try my best to have eye contact because it’s the norm in American culture. We don’t stare at each other but at least we look at the person’s eyes and face when we are talking. But there are some people in America who do not make eye contact for some reason such as social anxiety. Anxious people are everywhere.. LOL But in Japan, this social norm is completely opposite because it is considered rude and even threatening to talk to the other person while looking right into their eyes. Making eye contact isn’t a very polite thing to do so if you are interested in visiting or even living in Japan, this is something you should know because you don’t want to offend Japanese people without knowing the culture. ^_^
This is very interesting because my friend from South America is much worse than Americans in this respect. I feel a sense of awkwardness or embarrassment because she always stand very close to me and stare right into my eyes while listening to me. It’s that part of my “Japaneseness” makes me shy and even socially awkward at times. The hardest thing that I had to overcome was to have eye contact with interviewers. We all don’t want to the interviewers to call the bluff..and it is definitely easier to kind of look at his or her nose area while avoiding direct eye contact. I guess even a subtle sign of disapproval can affect my interview answers. lol It is really interesting how the most simple thing such as eye contact is very different depending on the culture. But if you are planning to move to Japan for the first time, this is a good custom to know and please do not take offense when Japanese people don’t have direct eye contact with you. It is NOT because they are not interested in getting to know you or dislike you. It is how they are brought up and we have been told that having extended direct eye contact is a sign of aggression and disapproval..so that is why people in Japan do not have eye contact especially with strangers.
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