I was talking to my friends about the initial cultural shock that I experienced. It happened when I first moved to Southern California. Japanese culture and American culture are very different, so I think I have managed to adjust to a new culture but many international students from Japan struggled for a while.
One thing that I learned about American society immediately was that people here wouldn’t apologize. Unless they really did something, many Americans don’t really apologize. The reason is that..
Well, this is just my theory.
1) Lawsuit happens much more frequently in America. So you don’t want to frequently apologize especially in certain situations. For example, when you get a car accident, make sure to get all the information and don’t just apologize.
2) American is an individualistic, in other words, very self-serving, self-centered society so it is all about me, myself and I as an individual. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some gracious Americans who apologize like Japanese people but I rarely see people like that anymore.
Well, you guys can probably help me out here and come up with more list of reasons that explain why American people don’t always apologize. Sometimes it is their damn fault and they still wouldn’t apologize.
On the other hand, Japanese people are trained from very little to be polite to others, especially older. It is important for us to be apologetic and humble. This is why some foreigners find our way of apologizing is just ridiculous.
“Yumi, you don’t need to apologize!” , says my American friend.
Another thing that I notice in terms of major cultural differences between Japan and America is the concept of boundaries and the space between people. American people often say “It isn’t my problem.” This applies to employment often.
My boss was trying to fire someone because of lack of productivity. But I told him that he has three children but he said “Well, it isn’t my problem.” He is simply a jerk, right? Probably. LOL
But this response seems to be quite common. It has a much more clear boundaries between myself and friend, between me and family member, between me and co-workers. These boundaries can be a little tricky in Japan.
On the other day, my coworker came to me and complain about my assistant. She has been busy with a special project so my assistant has been helping her. But one day..she emailed me saying that she wasn’t very happy with him because he is always a few minutes late..then my immediate response?
“I am sorry..I will let him know.”
My American coworker says “Why? It’s not your fault?”
That’s probably how most American people would think but in Japan, Supervisor is often blamed on his subordinate’s mistake. Because it was the lack of training or talk.
I love sharing my random stories! Don’t forget to leave a comment and I will see you soon!
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