Japanese business etiquette



If you work for a Japanese company or deal with Japanese clients from Japan, it is important to learn about Japanese business etiquette that is very different from the western style. If you are foreigner, Japanese clients would probably be understanding and expect less from you but it is good to try to conform as much as possible. For example, bowing is extremely important in Japanese society. In business, they tend to bow repeatedly. It does look a little odd to those who are not familiar with Japanese culture.

One thing I learned while working short-term assignments in Tokyo is the importance of exchanging business cards. There is a specific protocol in Japan. Business cards are called “meishi” in Japanese and make sure to stand up to receive “meishi” if the other party is standing up and also make sure to bow lightly when receiving a business card. Again this is very unique and unless you are familiar with Japanese culture, you wouldn’t know about this and it is again a bit odd.

It is a common sense but blowing your nose in public is not considered very polite or respectful for other people. So if you are in a business meeting, try not to blow your nose. I notice that a lot of people in America blow their nose in public and I have gotten used to it but it is slightly uncomfortable.

Lastly, it is very important to dress up if you are doing business with Japanese clients or partners. They tend to wear suites and ties in office environment.

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