I just came back from a business trip this weekend. It was the first time I worked as a “coordinator” for my company. I learned a lot and got “business culture shock” as well. I am not sure if there is the term in English. I just felt I was in another world that I had to speak another language and used another way of thinking especially in business meetings.
For example, my boss blamed me that I shouldn’t have said “sorry” if he hadn’t said that. In my opinion, in Japan, it’s very common to say sorry no matter you did bad things or not. It’s just like a start of a conversation. Especially in our case, the Japanese manager said,” My boss was angry last night.” I replied spontaneously,” I am sorry…” I meant, and I believe Japanese like this way – to show the sincere feeling that I feel sorry to hear that your boss was angry; I felt sorry that you were annoyed. But my boss said it was dangerous especially in business. To say sorry means we were wrong; sometimes we have to be responsible for the mistake if we say sorry and he didn’t think we were wrong. > < I am not sure what is right or wrong. My boss studied MBA in Taiwan and France; he must be the expert in business field. I have never worked in Japan’s business world. What I know is all about the general life and culture in Japan. Japanese have a lot of these kinds of sentences to show politeness. I am accustomed to it and use a lot too, now all of a sudden I cannot use them which makes me feel I am very rude here.
My boss said I shouldn’t have tried to “digest” or “discuss with him at that place” or “make conclusions of what he said”. I just need to translate word by word. Even for the Japanese yes or no question, when he wanted to make the answer blurry, I had to translate it blurry. To be blurry was his purpose. Then I felt I shouldn’t have been called “coordinator”, I should be a “translator”! I just wanted to help both side communicate well, but my boss said he felt I helped Japan more than Taiwan. Sigh…..
It seems like I have to change my personality, my way of thinking my language hobby...etc as doing business. What a big challenge for me! I have to pay special attention to every word I say or write from now on which is stressful and make me feel a little bit upset sometimes.
The good news is we finally made contracts with the Japanese company!
I think I will keep finding out Japan’s business culture and make it clear. I am also curious if other countries have different culture between common life and business. What does “sorry” mean to you? And is the meaning changed while doing business? I especially would like to hear Japanese friends’ comments.
2. If this is your first trip outside the U.S., you are probably looking forward to the new, exciting experiences that are in store for you. Unfortunately, when you arrive in your first foreign country, instead of feeling excited and full of energy, you may unexpectedly feel depressed, disoriented and lonely, especially if you are traveling alone. The greater the difference between this foreign culture and the American culture you're familiar with, the more pronounced these feelings might be. The technical term for this is "culture shock." For many Americans in foreign countries, the language barrier is often the most difficult issue to cope with. If you do not know some simple phrases in the language of your host country, you will feel very isolated. How do you communicate with others to find a place to eat or to find your way around town? What do you do for entertainment? The movies are in a foreign language and there are few places available where you can socialize easily. You suddenly feel very alienated. Dealing with foreign currency can also be a problem. You have to do mental calculations every time you try to buy something. How much does this cost? All of these coins look alike. How much change do I get back? This can be very intimidating, especially if...
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