Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

Be Respectful or Be Shut Out

C: You were saying earlier that you have to be respectful when you are trying to convey something to somebody. Is that also something that is particularly true for Japan or is it more of a feature of working on an international level?

It’s definitely something that is specific to Japan. I think that if you go over to New York and you talk to a designer over there you will find that people are incredibly rude and disrespectful to everybody. Sydney is the same way. Paris is icy. You just can’t be like that with Japanese people.

When Japanese people experience the way people act in those countries they are incredibly offended and they can’t convey that because they can’t speak English. We went to a trade show in Australia about four years ago and there were some Japanese stores and Japanese buyers who got kicked out of their seats so that some girl the seating guy had met the night before could sit in the front row. They were incredibly offended but nobody understood that and nobody cared. The show lost a lot of business because of it – even we stopped going because of the way that foreigners can treat you. So, from the outside coming into this country you really have to play the game right otherwise you won’t be able to do business, people will shut you out.