Japan: Bitesized Business Etiquette
For those of you who need good information quickly and concisely, here is a list of 15 essential Japanese business tips that you need to know before that vital meeting in Japan.
- Good manners, politeness and sensitivity are essential. Japanese business is very formal and traditional.
- The Japanese have a good sense of humour, a cultural faux pas, or an attempt to speak Japanese could break the ice.
- Take plenty of notes during a meeting, it indicates interest, but NOT on the back of a business card.
- The Japanese seldom shake hands. A firm and friendly hand-shake is a definite no, it could make a Japanese person very uncomfortable indeed, they may avoid meeting you again!
- Never pat a Japanese person on the back or shoulder.
- Never be rude about competitors, or anyone.
- Always be polite.
- Do not blow your nose in a public place, and definitely not in a meeting.
- Gifts are good. Bring enough for assistants and subordinates too.
- Do not wrap gifts in white (death) or green (unlucky).
- Don’t turn your back on someone of higher status than you.
- Always carry business cards. See further information about business cards.
- Do not wear a black suit with a white shirt and a black tie to meetings, as this is funeral wear. October-April: Do wear a navy or black suit with white shirt and conservative tie May-September: A grey suit appropriate.
- Beards may be frowned on, Japanese companies do not allow beards, or shaved heads, worth considering!
- Businesswomen should dress in the same seasonal colours as the men (see above), trouser suits and longer skirts will earn more respect – as will shorter or tied back hair.
Japan: The all important business card
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