Japanese Communication Case Study

Good Essays
All business activities involve communication. For any manager, various processes such as leading, motivation, negotiation, decision making, problem solving and brainstorming, are all based on their ability to effectively communicate with employees, clients and suppliers.
In most cases, managers have difficulty in communication, even when it is domestic. Hence it is only natural that people face barriers to communicating effectively across cultures. In particular for managers and expatriates dealing with Japan face a number of challenges in their efforts to develop adequate intercultural competencies for cross cultural interaction because of the opaqueness of Japanese culture. Below is a description of some such challenges. [1]
I. COMMUNICATION
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When communicating with each other, it is therefore not necessary to verbalize everything explicitly; since there is a shared background, a kind of shorthand can be used. Feelings can be communicated with few words, or through subtle nonverbal cues. There is a Japanese saying, "Hear one, understand ten". Silence can also have great meaning. When communicating with people from other cultures, with whom there may be little or no shared background, Japanese tend to either assume a higher level of shared understanding than actually exists, and communicate in a way that seems cryptic or ambiguous to foreigners, or they are acutely aware of the lack of shared understanding, and demonstrate a high need for contextual information in order to build this shared context. This can be exasperating for business counterparts who feel that they have provided enough information already. Rather than focusing only on a potential partner's business proposal or the specific task at hand, Japanese may take a more holistic approach and want to know about the partner's character and history; they will be reluctant to pursue a joint task until a relationship has been established. …show more content…
COMMUNICATION GAPS CAUSED BY LINGUISTIC DIFFERENCES

1. Indirect or ambiguous expression: The Japanese "Yes..." can mean anything from "I'm listening to you," to "I understand what you're saying" to "I understand what you're saying, but I don't agree with you." The Japanese speaker may simply mean, "I have listened to what you have to say." when they say “I understand”. "We will consider it" is sometimes used as a tactful way of ending a discussion while avoiding a direct negative response.
2. Unintended tone: "Had better" tends to be overused by the Japanese as they think it is more polite than “Should”. "Maybe" and "I think so" are two examples of ways that Japanese speakers of English translate these attempts to express themselves in a mature and harmonious way. This does not mean that the Japanese person is weak or indecisive; he or she may in fact feel quite strongly about the opinion so tentatively expressed. Japanese ask "Do you understand?" or "Is that clear for you?" as they are often self-conscious about their English-speaking ability, and worry whether they are making themselves clear to their non-Japanese business partners though sometimes it might sound

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