- First business trip to Japan
- Business dinner in Tokyo
- Japanese translation of “welcome”
- Communication problem with Japanese employees
- My Japanese boss treats me like a little girl
I’m about to take my first business trip to Japan, and I’m feeling a little nervous. Any advice?
Don’t be too self-conscious. People in Japan stare at foreigners on the street, sometimes even in big cities like Tokyo. If you just remind yourself that it’s normal, it’ll make you feel a lot easier. You will feel like an alien in Japan, but there’s nothing wrong about it. Take it easy. Return to top
I’m going to dinner in Tokyo with my Japanese client, but I don’t know if I can eat the local food. What should I do?
It’s a sensible decision to avoid unfamiliar food before your important business presentation, but you still wouldn’t want to tell your client, “Your local food scares me.” It’s perfectly okay to say, “I like chicken, but I’m allergic to fish.” Even if you don’t like sushi, there are other dishes that you may enjoy. If you want to play it really safe, you can try, “I’ve heard that the Italian, [or French, or Chinese] restaurants in Tokyo are world-class. I’d love to try one of them.” If you miss American pizza and burgers, however, keep it to yourself until your business trip is over. Return to top
I want to greet my guests in Japanese. What is the Japanese translation of “welcome”?
You can find the definition in dictionaries, but no Japanese people actually say “welcome” to their guests, so don’t use it. We can recommend other simple, effective ways to greet visitors from Japan. Return to top
I’m concerned about the subtly hostile atmosphere of my office. Our Japanese employees speak English, but they are not communicating well with the rest of our team. How can I find out the cause of this problem?
If you need to investigate the cause of the issue without further aggravating the situation, we recommend using a third party that doesn’t have a conflict of interest. The following are some of the reasons: (1) If harmony and cooperation is your goal, direct confrontation should be avoided. (2) Language is not the only factor that may complicate the professional relationship of your employees. (3) The root cause of the problem may be hurting your business in other ways. (4) Office relations should not distract you from your professional responsibilities. Return to top
My Japanese boss calls me “Nancy-chan.” My Japanese teacher says “chan” should be used only for children and pets. Is there a way to address my concern without offending him?
The best way to address your concern without compromising your position is to use a trusted third party. You may want to suggest a cross-cultural business manner seminar to your human resources department. It will benefit the entire company, not only you and your boss. No matter how carefully you choose your words, direct confrontation with your boss is not a good idea. Keep in mind that some Japanese businessmen honestly think the terms “cute” and “sweet” are compliments to their female counterparts, and that the majority of young Japanese female office workers don’t seem to mind being referred to as “girls.” Return to top