Having an understanding of culture and etiquette is one thing but being able to converse in Japanese is something entirely different.
Japan is a country steeped in tradition and culture, and ensuring business etiquette is met in Japan in line with the traditions and culture is often the biggest fear for any person doing business with the Japanese. A great deal of the etiquette is common decency and politeness, but having some knowledge of what should or should not be done in a meeting, goes a very long way.
Perhaps the most common of all known elements of Japanese business culture, is the bow. It is common courtesy. Some people would say that it is better not to bow at all than to bow badly, but, the Japanese are very forgiving. If it is your first time doing business in Japan I am sure you will be respected. In communication prior any meeting, it is well worth while indicating this so when you do bow your client or host will understand and respect the fact that you are nonetheless aware of custom and are at least trying to conform. Do not offer a handshake immediately on a first time meeting and rather wait for the handshake to be offered to you, most people will offer one.
Another curious point about doing business in Japan is the seating. If your host is seated, do not wait to be asked to sit, it is considered polite to sit with your host. If none of your hosts are seated, do not break the ice and be the first, there is a certain hierarchy that is followed, the host or more senior of your hosts must sit first and then others will follow.
Much of the culture around business is common sense. Don’t rush and take your time, and with everything, being conservative is recommended. Don’t be brash, forceful or demanding as this can be disrespectful, and never dress in flash clothes or use expensive pens to make you look good, better or wealthier. Just be yourself. The Japanese are not easily impressed by money and showing off. And a little secret, only ever sign in blue or black ink unless instructed to do so otherwise.
Once you have settled in with your host or client, you will need to make conversation. Many Japanese businessmen speak very good English, but, speaking Japanese, even just a few phrases can make a tremendous impact on the person you are with.
Having an understanding of culture and etiquette is one thing but being able to converse in Japanese is something entirely different.
The Japanese language may seem a challenging language to learn but in actual fact it is not, English as a second language is by far the most complex and your Japanese counterpart is having to or has had to work a great deal harder to learn English than you have Japanese. Speaking the language creates trust and confidence. Your host will tell you things he or she would not it they were speaking another language with which they struggled, merely because they do not know how, or how to say it correctly. So much can be lost in translation but taking the time to learn the language and just do a little bit of research into doing business in Japan goes a very long way.
This will be different for everyone. There are so many reasons and advantages. So many things that pull at our heart strings and our imagination. Some of us are looking to be able to connect socially in our own environment. By delving into someone else’s culture and language we feel a stronger connection to that person and find it can enrich the bonds that we forge with each other.
Some of us are just looking for a bit of fun and adventure, something different to what is already part of our everyday lives. Learning a language can open our minds and expand our world even if we never leave our own land. It’s true that sometimes we are so comfortable in our own worlds that we never step out of that comfort zone. Over time this can cause our worlds and attitudes to shrink and can sometimes make it harder for us to break out of the mould and try new things.
Learning a language can not only challenge our brains and give us another focus other than what we normally see but it can help to open up our thought processes and cultural awareness to accept and understand something beyond ourselves.
Travel is obviously another motivator for language. If we are travelling to foreign lands we can rely on interpreters, on the locals knowing our language or on fumbling around with our interpretation of sign language to make ourselves understood. But what are we really looking for when we travel? To see something different, experience new things and to make memories to take with us into the future. How much different will our travel experience be if we can make ourselves known to the stall owner in the market place or to the café assistant as we sit on the sidewalk under the striped awning enjoying the morning sunshine in some far away land. Imagine the little bits of local knowledge that could lead us to that special shop, tucked away that the tourist never finds, just because we could understand the local lingo. Is that what you’re looking for?
How about work? There are those of us who want or need to upskill to be able to give that exceptional customer service that makes us stand out from the crowd. Those who are relocating and know that knowing the language of our target country will make working in that country remarkably more interesting and exciting. Imagine the pressure of relocating to a new country for work and having to not only learn the ropes for work but also having to battle the barriers of not understanding everyone. Sure, many work places and companies will speak English but it’s all those little nuisances or those little fun comments in the foreign tongue that help us to feel a part of the group and to assimilate into our new work environment and build great communication and relationships with our colleagues and new communities. How much easier would it be if we were already one step ahead by speaking the language before we arrived? Then there are those of us who become bi-lingual so we have that edge in the work place. It can be a competitive world when it comes to applying for those coveted work positions and in this day and age we are more multi-cultural than ever before. Having useful skills that can enhance the work environment and the reputation and customer service of any business is definitely desirable for some employers.
We found this great site Gengo.com that has made conducting international business easier than ever. This interactive guide provides information for over a dozen countries on cultural norms for the workplace including how to approach a manager with a problem, how to socialize with your colleagues outside of work, and how to impress a client. Best of all, you can compare how your culture stacks up with the country you plan visit including the work/life balance, the dress code and more.
For example, if you are headed to Japan, karaoke is the best way to get to know your colleagues. Say yes to every karaoke invitation, and be prepared to use this casual atmosphere as a way to discuss things off the record. Need to impress your client? Pick a high-quality whiskey over a flower. Check out this smart guide to business cultures before your next trip.
China is booming, it has been for a number of years, and like a small dragon born from an egg, she has now grown, become something remarkable, feared by some and embraced by others. No matter how this dragon is seen, China is a place where business people see some kind of future, some success and continuity or expansion of existing business.
One thing that is for certain with China, is that it has become a place where gaining an advantage, getting in first, or having a shot at trading with a partner in a particular province in a particular field has become more of a challenge. Being the best at what you do and even having the most money is no assurance of doing business, China and Chinese Business have become wary of business and the dragon has become wise.
For the astute, or progressive businessman, there is a way to not so outwit the wizening dragon that China has become, but work with it and become better acquainted. This way is through speaking Chinese and thus being able communicate in their own tongue. It is not that the dragon doesn’t trust those who cannot speak its language, but has more to do with respect, trust and a willingness to work that bit harder for what will inevitably be gain.
A businessman or company who has staff that have taken the time to learn Chinese means that this company is taking China seriously and the dragon commands respect. This Chinese Dragon that we call industry has learnt to respect serious intent over money and even over being number one, that is very often the same one who will throw most money at a deal. The overseas company will be dealing with their Chinese counterparts and while in a growing number of cases these counterparts will speak English and a variety of other languages, speaking in their native tongue will nonetheless instil a level of trust that will go a long way in sweetening the deal or transaction.
Doing business in Chinese and even bilingually reduces the chance of things being lost in translation as this can prove costly. Having an understanding of, and a willingness to learn the language, will ultimately sustain the business transaction and while in the past, the quick buck for a quick win, was seen as good business the wiser and older dragon now understands the error of this.
But it goes further than the board room table and business in China. As is evident in the rest of the world, China does have a social and family element to it. Speaking Chinese opens up social, recreational and those more interpersonal elements of doing business in China. Speaking Chinese makes a person who was once merely a business associate who seemed to care only about his own profits a person of trust who can be introduced to families and be invited to social gatherings. Long term relationships can be formed that provide a solid foundation for doing better business going forward and this all starts with language and a willingness to learn.
China may have become a feared and even fearless dragon, but by speaking the same language as the dragon, means in many ways it can be tamed, and mutual success over an extended period of time can be assured.
新年好 / 新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo) New Year Goodness is the most popular Chinese New Year Greeting. Chinese New Year begins on the 16th February this year and 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Apparently, for people born in the Year of the Dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006), 2018 is considered an auspicious year.
People born in a year of the Dog supposedly are are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Due to having a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, Dogs will do everything for the person who they think is most important. As Dogs are not good at communication, it is difficult for them to convey their thoughts to others. Therefore, Dogs tend to leave others with the impression that they have a stubborn personality.
Born with a good nature, Dogs do not tend to be criminals or seek dishonest gains. They just need a quiet life and a good family and, therefore, forget the ugliness and evil on Earth.
Dogs are always ready to help others and do not care about their own interests, but if they find themselves betrayed by cunning people they will feel shocked and hurt.
There are a few traditions that go hand in hand with Chinese New Year. One of these is the "red packet and envelope" New Years' gift. Red envelopes or packets are money wrapped in red paper and given to children from their parents, grandparents and others. Chinese people love the colour red and regard it as the symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. Actually, the significance of red packets in hoped to bring more happiness and blessing to the receivers. Hence it is impolite to open a red packet in front of the person who gives you. In China, the red packet is called yasui qian (压岁钱 /yaa-sway chyen/), which means 'suppressing ghosts money'. Those who receive a red packet are wished another year negotiated safely and peacefully.
Chinese believe that, as the Spring Festival is the start of a new year, what you do then will affect your luck in the coming year. There are however many things that you should NOT do.
Don't eat porridge because it brings poverty;
Don't wash your hair because it washes away good luck;
Don't do needle work as it depletes wealth;
Don't say any unlucky words such as "death" as it may bring death;
Don't wash any clothes as it washes away good luck;
Don't sweep as it sweeps away wealth
The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China's most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year Taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down. The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.
I have been working with Vocational Language Learning Centre (VLLC) for 28 years and have been CEO since 2013. VLLC was created because there was a need within Australia for a language learning program that, was not only fast and effective, but also directly related to the vocational needs of the individual and specific organisations. We believe that there is no point learning a language, if that language is not a usable skill.
We have been delivering tailored language courses to enterprises and individuals for many reasons over the years. We have assisted clients in securing new markets within their businesses, developing existing ones, and allowing other professional individuals to communicate throughout the world.
Since its inception, VLLC has successfully taught languages to a range of students from many walks of life and for many reasons and to be able to communicate in their chosen fields. Amongst these clientele are some of the larger Australian and overseas companies such as Mitsubishi, International College of Hotel Management, CSIRO and BHP, some government organisations such as Austrade, Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police and some Volunteering organisations such as Red Cross and World Vision. Students from these companies have been able to enrich their careers by being able to communicate with various cultures and communities.
We have really enjoyed some very interesting motivations for students wishing to learn a language. We have had one gentleman who was a vet, who needed to learn Japanese as he was going to Japan to work in the horse racing industry. We have had students who are in the car racing industry, are missionaries, work in foreign aid, won contracts with Indonesia, manufacturing and import export with China, diplomats, wanting to marry a spouse from another cultural background and being able to understand their mother in law and many other reasons and career opportunities.
If you are interested in ensuring that your career can be spectacular then contact VLLC and start your own language adventure.
CEO VLLC Aust
Tucked away in Southern Europe, bordering Bulgaria, sits one of the most ancient countries in the world, renowned for its mythology and as one of the modern founders of philosophy and what we today would call “Western Civilisation”. Greece is one of the oldest countries with an observed and documented civilisation on Earth, and in recent years has seen some considerable turmoil in terms of its government and the economy.
Despite the recent challenges, and even the economic fear that once loomed over Greece like an executioners axe, the country is very much open for business. Business in Greece is not about ancient Gods and mythical creatures, nor is it about breaking plates, however, one does need to be aware that Greeks are tremendously proud of their history, heritage and mythology. Greece is, and always has been, a partner with whom trade has been important and that trade is improved by speaking the Greek language.
Having been in recession since 2008, Greece is fighting hard to get back to a point where it is considered a strong trading partner. Heavily dependent on the service industry that accounts for over 80% of the economy, one could easily be forgiven by assuming that olives and fish would be the larger part of what makes the country work, as olives and fish are perhaps what many think Greece produces.
The Greek language is something Grecians are proud of, it is a remarkable language with its own alphabet and if it were not for the winds of change, it could well have been the language most commonly spoken today. Having an understanding of the language allows a person to converse and understand the little things that matter about doing business in Greece. Greeks are very passionate about history and the very well-known mythology and through having a grasp of the language the ancient stories of heroes, heroines and monsters can take on a whole new life breaking the ice to get a deal done.
There are some taboos, and among them is Turkey or Cyprus, speaking the language will not only allow this subject to be carefully avoided but will enable you to ask questions if you so wish in a calm and intellectual manner on this touchy subject. Greeks don’t appreciate criticism and sarcasm should be avoided, broken plates are part of Greek culture and not meant to be used to mock. Greeks take themselves seriously but with control of the language, humour soon becomes easy to share.
Simple things matter when doing business in Greece. Greeks like to be informed and thus an agenda for a meeting should be sent before a meeting. Punctuality is advisable, as much as Greece may seem laid back, Greeks like to be on time and lateness does not look good. First meetings are often formal, and introductions likewise, with control of the language you will have immediate respect and first names soon become almost natural.
The one thing to be aware of, and something that through speaking Greek will make easier, is the fact that Greeks want to get to know who they are dealing with and will ask a lot of questions. Trust and respect is easily created by simply having a conversation and this can be more easily achieved through conversing in Greek.
Don’t let doing business in Greece be all about Hercules and breaking plates, take some time to learn the language and you will soon be doing great business in one of the oldest civilisations on earth. Learn Greek at VLLC to help you success in business with Greece.
I was looking on the about money website and it had a great article about how to reflect on the end of a year and plan for the following year and decide how you want your business to develop.
Do you want increased success in the coming year or the chance to enjoy the success you have already achieved?
The top 10 resolutions are designed to help you strike a better work life balance, so that you can fully enjoy the New Year.
1) Learn how to delegate and do more of it. There are so many things to do when you're running a small business, it's easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them. Then we wonder why we're so tired and frazzled and have no time to do anything else!
2) Promote your business regularly and consistently. Too often the task of promoting a small business slips to the bottom of the to-do list in the press of urgent tasks. If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Make a New Year's resolution to hire a marketing expert, or take the time to create a marketing plan on your own and follow through.
4) Learn something new. What you choose to learn may be directly related to your business or completely unrelated. Learning something new will add to your skills and add a new dimension of interest to your life - another important part of achieving a healthy work-life balance. Depending on how you choose to learn, you may meet new and interesting people, who may become customers, colleagues, or friends. How will you find the time to learn something new? By delegating, remember? Considering learning a language so that you can expand your business into new horizons?
5) Join a new business organisation or networking group. There's nothing like talking to other business people for sparking new ideas, refining old ones, and making contacts. Whether it's a group specifically designed for networking or an organization dedicated to a particular type of business, in person or over the 'Net, making the effort to be a part of a group will revitalize you and your business.
6) Give something back to your community. There are all kinds of worthy organizations that make a difference in your community. Make a New Year's resolution to find a cause that matters to you, and give what you can. Make this the year that you serve on a committee, be a mentor, volunteer, or make regular donations to the groups in your community that try to make the place you live a better place. And those that give get.
8) Set realistic goals. Goal setting is a valuable habit - if the goals lead to success rather than distress. Make a New Year's resolution that the goals you set will be goals that are achievable, rather than unrealistic pipe dreams that are so far out of reach they only lead to frustration.
9) Don't make do; get a new one. Is there a piece of equipment in your office that's interfering with your success or something that you lack that's making your working life harder? Whether it's an old fax machine that's a pain to use, or the need for a new employee to lighten your work load, make a New Year's resolution to stop putting off getting what you need. The irritation of making do just isn't worth it.
10) Drop what's not working for you and move on. All products aren't going to be super sellers, all sales methods aren't going to work for everyone, and all suppliers or contractors aren't going to be ideally suited to your business. If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn't working for you, stop using it. Don't invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is like maintaining a good relationship; you have to keep working on it. But if you apply these New Year's resolutions throughout the year, your success is guaranteed!
If your job requires you to chat with clients from different nationalities, studying the language of that country will help to make your work easier. It will create a positive image in the minds of your clients, which they might communicate to your bosses, and may just provide you with the competitive edge in landing that new and elusive contract.
You will no longer require an interpreter to communicate your clients’ requirement to you. This will also save a lot of cost for the organisation for which you are working. The lack of foreign language knowledge puts the English speakers at a disadvantage. In meetings, for example, the people on the other side can discuss things amongst themselves in their own language without the English speakers understanding, and using interpreters slows everything down. In any socialising after the meetings, which may be integral to strengthening relationships, your clients will probably feel more comfortable using their own language rather than English.
Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips. Upskilling yourself by learning a new language can give you the upper hand in job selection and you may find yourself working in a foreign country, living the dream….
A linguist and Columbia professor, Mr John McWhorter, recently conducted a talkback radio feature relating to learning new languages and the necessity for this. I heard about this both on the radio and in a CCTNews article which I have referenced below. McWhorter makes the case that English is rapidly consolidating its position as the universal language, and points out how this begs an important question: if you speak English already, why bother learning another language?
According to McWhorter, English is on its way to becoming the predominant global language by the end of this century, thanks to its prevalence on the internet, and its use in the world of finance, diplomacy and air traffic control, and even though Mandarin is currently spoken by more people, far more Chinese speakers are learning English than the other way around. If that were not enough reason to forget about studying a foreign language, he adds that instant translation of live speech is getting better every year.
These two points lead McWhorter to ask: Why should anyone learn foreign languages if everyone will either be able to speak English, or have access to technology that will automatically translate speech?
McWhorter gives the following reasons as to why you should learn a foreign language:
McWhorter concludes with a reflection on how it has never been easier to teach yourself a language. “You used to have to go to class, go to the laboratory, use records… and books that didn’t work”. In comparison, now we have “modern methods of learning languages would have sounded like science fiction to very sophisticated people”.
We agree with McWhorter, in that the options for language learning now are very vast and accessible. To truly grasp a language though there is a necessity to practice your communication skill so that when it is time to use it in real life, you have the skill and the confidence to do so. At Vocational Lanaguge Learning Centre (VLLC) we teach languages using multisensory techniques so that the language becomes a usable skill, just like your first language.
Start your learning experience in any of VLLC's 12 foreign languages online and you will open your eyes to a brand new future! The possibilities are endless! VLLC offers foreign language courses taught in one to one tutorials for each of the following languages. Click on one of the following languages below to find out more; Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish or Thai. Learn your language at our Melbourne or Adelaide offices or via Skype using our exclusive online software.
Whether you want to learn a language for travel, business, love or to keep your brain active; VLLC have a comprehensive range of fully accredited courses to suit your needs.
VLLC aim to give students a voice and the self-assurance to speak through the practical application of the language. Key reasons to complete a course with VLLC include:
See how our language courses can help you and have a look at some of our Student's stories to see how learning a language can change your life.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.