Good knowledge of etiquette can help you appear confident and suave in the corporate world. Doing business in Japan can be quite rewarding if you learn how they do it. Contrary to how most greetings and gestures are conducted, the Japanese have a unique style of show-and-tell. Learning the basic Japanese business etiquettes can help you appear invested and give you a cutting edge in making a long-term professional relationship with the Japanese.
- The Japanese Greeting – Respect between colleagues and business partners is greatly emphasized in Japan. The Japanese greet one another with a bow, signifying honor between them. It is believed that the lower the bow, the higher the significance of respect the person holds. Gently bow with your head lowered, with your hands on either side of your body to make a good impression. If the person extends their hand for a handshake, you can return that alongside a bow to make for a complete greeting. Common times that call for this Japanese business culture are- the beginning and end of the ceremony, to express gratitude, to show empathy, while asking for a favor or while bidding goodbye.
- Exchanging Business cards – Known as Meishi in Japanese, exchanging business cards is considered important in Japan. The appearance and handling of Japanese visiting cards are considered an important characteristic of a person’s reputation for the Japanese. We recommend carrying a suitable case for your business cards so that they don’t look all crammed up and are well-pressed. When someone hands you their business card, examine it carefully and place it front-facing on your desk, to show respect for them.
- Removal of shoes – While attending any informal event, enter only after removing your shoes. In the Japanese business culture, removal of shoes before entering any important place is quite a thing! Show some respect for the custom by leaving your footwear outside. Also, remember to have some clean socks on, walking barefoot may be frowned upon.
- Punctuality – Sticking to timelines and deadlines is a sure -shot yes while doing business in Japan. The Japanese value reliability and need to trust you before they go ahead with any partnership. Keep a close look at the time and be observant. If due to an unavoidable circumstance, you aren’t able to follow through the deadline, make sure to notify your colleagues and seniors in advance.
- Body Language – Be mindful of your body language. Excessive touching, laughter or dramatic expressions are better to avoid while meeting with the Japanese. A firm back, straight shoulders and a solemn look go a long way in impressing your clients and colleagues. The Japanese are serious people when it comes to doing business so avoid making any jokes or remarks that could offend the person or company.
- Dress Code – A black or grey suit with a white shirt, tie and formal pants for men and a mild colored shirt to go with a formal skirt for women can be followed.
We hope that this list of common Japanese business etiquettes can make your meetings smooth and successful. All the best!