| Doing Business Abroad
|By Wayne A. Conaway|
© Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved
- The Japanese may greet you with a handshake, but the bow is their
traditional greeting. If someone bows to greet you, give a bow of the same
depth. The depth indicates the status relationship between you. As you bow,
lower your eyes and keep your palms flat against your thighs.
- Business cards (extremely important) are presented after the bow or
handshake. Present your card with its Japanese side facing your colleague.
Handle the cards you receive carefully - don't put them in your pocket or write
- Use last names plus san, meaning Mr. or Ms. Do not suggest that the
Japanese call you by your first name.
- Ask for help in pronunciation of a Japanese's name and title from his/her
business card. If you understand without help, make a relevant comment.
Memorize all the information on the card.
- A negatively phrased question will get a "yes" if the Japanese
speaker agrees. The question, "Doesn't Company A want us?" will be
answered "yes" if the Japanese think Company A does not want you. In
the U.S., we would answer, "No, they don't."
- Contracts are not perceived as final. You or they may renegotiate.
- A Japanese negotiating team usually knows the details of each topic, the
players involved and the probable outcome of a meeting before it starts. Their
meeting goals are to gain consensus, not to hash an "action item" to
- Business entertaining usually occurs after business hours and rarely in the
- Allow your host to order for you, be enthusiastic while eating, and show
great thanks afterwards.
- Never point your chopsticks at another person, or stick them straight up in
your rice bowl. When not in use, line them up on the chopstick rest.