Since the end of World War II when two atomic bombs changed Japan forever, the nation has fought to become the nation it is today. Japan is a nation that had two choices after the bombs were dropped, to die or prosper. Prosperity was chosen and ever since then the nation has been a leading innovator in engineering and technology making Japan a top country to do business with.
Innovation persists in Japan; miniaturizing and automating processes have been the hallmark of Japanese industry and for outsiders to get in on the leading edge today one needs to have an advantage. One advantage that few consider, primarily because many Japanese people speak English is language. Language in any culture opens up doors, breaks down barriers and deepens respect and in Japan, respect especially is something of great importance.
Mastering the bow is a start when doing business in Japan, as is handing and grasping a business card with two hands. To the Japanese a Business card is an extension of the person referred to as Meishi. However, getting beyond this and further than Konnichiwa or Sayonara is the biggest challenge for many aspiring business people looking to do business in Japan. Relying on a translator is uncomfortable and awkward, emotion is lost and to be honest one doesn’t really know if the translation is truthful or exact. Translators also cost money and when some face time is required with your potential Japanese customer or partner, the translator is like a third wheel on a date.
Speaking Japanese automatically removes the third wheel and business relationships can grow deeper and stronger quickly. Even when making a few errors in Japanese your errors will very likely be forgiven because you are attempting what few actually do. Speaking Japanese shows respect and lifts levels of trust very quickly and when getting to the front of the queue to do business with a new product or partner with a progressive company you are leapfrogged to the front. Language in any country gives anyone an advantage, being able to converse and even make small talk or chuckle at a joke breaks down barriers fast. Not that Japanese business meetings are big on small talk but having a conversation with the receptionist or striking up a conversation with a general employee can prove useful.
Speaking Japanese gives you and your business a unique advantage when doing business in Japan. Not only does command of the language help in business meetings is also makes socialising with your customer, partner or supplier easier and just like every country in the world most business in Japan is not done in the board room. Speaking Japanese makes a round of golf much easier and conversation on any golf course is well known to be the conversation that closes the deal.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.