Business TripsGreetings and Introductions (continued):My experience with meetings between Westerners and Japanese is that a hybrid form of imperfect bowing and imperfect hand-shaking usually takes places, and thus it is OK if a few mistakes are made in the process. The business cards, however, are another story. Here it is important to present your card with both hands, and to receive your counterpart’s card with both hands. Show that you take the time to read what is on it and perhaps repeat the name. Business cards are a type of ‘face’ or passport to a mutual relationship. It is very important to treat these with care, i.e. don’t play with them, bend them, or just stick them in your back pocket; otherwise, you will have symbollically damaged the budding business relationship before it even gets started.
MeetingsDecision-Making in Japanese Companies (continued): This method of decision-making shouldn’t pose any problems. What could cause difficulties, however, is when the European side hasn’t done anything in the meantime (which unfortúnately happens often). They then find that at the next meeting the Japanese are extremely well prepared while they are not. The Japanese are disappointed that their European counterparts haven’t prepared anything for the implemenation of the project. At the same time, the European partners assumed that since things were taking so long that the project wasn’t going to happen.The Solution: Stay informed and up-to-date on how your Japanese are coming along. Pay attention to signals, such as requests for information. Find a contact person in the Japanese company who you can regularly ask about the status of the project. “Do you need any additional information?” is a legitimate question you can ask to help you figure out where your company stands and perhaps speed up the process.
GeneralBody Contact:People in Japan generally maintain a greater distance between one another. While European countries practice different degrees of embracing one another when greeting and saying goodbye to others, don’t forget that Japanese prefer a bit more physical distance. Not allowing for this may come across as a bit too overbearing.