Tips for doing business in Japan
When working abroad, a good negotiator should be aware of the the many intercultural differences that can result in driving a wedge between both parties involved. Therefore, you should pay attention to the next tips before working in Japan.
1. Bring many business cards
In the Japanese culture, all formal meetings requires the exchange of business cards. Called meishi koukan, we must respect this very complex protocol. It will allow you to avoid intercultural conflicts with any other party. Understanding that cards are a part of your identity will put you in good stead for a meeting.
Firstly, the Japanese culture focuses highly on hierarchy. Hierarchy is paramount and you have to threat your executives with more respect than for your colleagues. In the process of exchanging business cards, higher ranking executives from both parties exchange their business cards first. But do not forget to prepare the right amount of cards and place them in a business card wallet.
As you give yours, face it toward the receiver to allow him to read the information. Make sure you use both of your hands. While giving your business card, also introduce yourself briefly by stating your name and position in your company.
Accept the card wit both hands when it is your turn. Besides, showing interest by reading it briefly remains a way of insuring a respectful relationship. Once seated, make sure you place the different cards from the other party in frond of you.
At the end of the meeting, add the cards to the top of your card holder. However, you must never place them in your back pocket or even your regular wallet.
2. Play it safe and dress formally
The way people are dressed in Japan is crucial as a good appearance can be attributed to higher social and corporate status. Consequently, most of the Japanese are very formal and dressed as such.
Therefore, all companies do not accept business casual. Of course it will be more appropriate to dress formally for big traditional and quoted enterprises than for international start-ups.
Thus, men must mostly wear conservative business suits with dark colours to impress and still avoid standing out excessively. Therefore, invest in an appropriate good-quality suit that fits you well.
The same dress code principles are also relevant for women. Dress formally, but also keep low heels and avoid many catchy jewels.
Hence, not standing out too much and keeping a conservative and formal outfit will help you to adapt to your new business environment.
3. Behave respectfully while doing business in Japan
Showing your flexibility and capacity to respect small details of the Japanese culture will be appreciated. For instance, long-term relationships orient the Japanese. Therefore, make sure you make every possible effort to accept most of the requests and then to settle a win-win situation where both parties are equally having interest in the outcome.
Moreover, make sure you are always on time for any meetings and show an open and friendly behaviour to favour a long-term relationship.
Avoid using hard-selling approach during a negotiation. Indeed, Japanese do not perceive well pressure or any impatient attitude. Hence, have a gentler and more comprehensive behaviour and many opportunities to build a trustful relationship with your partner will show up.
For more information, you can visite the following website about the Japanese business etiquette.
Photo: © Eric L / Flickr