The Seven Keys to Communicating in Japan: An Intercultural Approach

Georgetown University Press
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The key to professional success in Japan is understanding Japanese people. The authors, seasoned cross-cultural trainers for businesspeople, provide a practical set of guidelines for understanding Japanese people and culture through David A. Victor's LESCANT approach of evaluating a culture's language, environment, social organization, context, authority, nonverbal communication, and time conception. Each chapter addresses one of these topics and shows effective strategies to overcoming cultural barriers and demonstrates how to evaluate the differences between Japan and North America to help avoid common communication mistakes. The book is generously peppered with photographs to provide visual examples. Exploring language and communication topics, international relations, and the business community, this book is an excellent intercultural overview for anyone traveling to or working in Japan.
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About the author

Haru Yamada is the author of Different Games, Different Rules: Why Americans and Japanese Misunderstand Each Other, is a contributing editor to L'Echo, and consults on various communications issues.

Orlando R. Kelm is associate professor at the University of Texas–Austin, where he focuses mainly on business language and the cultural aspects of international business communication. He also serves as the Associate Director of Business Language Education at the UT Center for Global Business. He is coauthor of The Seven Keys to Communicating in Brazil: An Intercultural Approach.

David A. Victor is professor and director of International Business Programs at Eastern Michigan University, where he focuses on cross-cultural business communication and international differences in organizational structure. He is the author of Conflict Management: A Communication Skills Approach and coauthor of The Seven Keys to Communicating in Brazil: An Intercultural Approach.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Georgetown University Press
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Published on
Sep 1, 2017
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9781626164789
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Business Etiquette
Foreign Language Study / Japanese
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Eriko Sato, Ph.D.
Haru Yamada
Japan and the United States are in closer contact politically and economically than ever before, yet in many ways our nations are as far from mutual understanding as ever. Misconceptions and miscommunications between East and West continue to plague this important relationship, frustrating the best efforts of both cultures to work together. Stereotypes abound: Americans see Japanese as evasive and inscrutable, while Japanese see Americans as pushy and selfish. What causes these persistent misunderstandings, and what can be done to avoid them? Fluent in both languages and at home in both cultures, Haru Yamada brings an insiders perspective and a linguists training to this difficult question, illuminating the many reasons why Americans and Japanese misunderstand one another. Social organization, she explains, shapes the way we talk. Because American and Japanese cultures value different kinds of social relationships, they play different language games with different sets of rules. In America, for instance, Aesop's fable about the grasshopper and the ants ends with the ants scorning the foolhardy grasshopper. In Japan, however, the story has a very different ending: the ants invite the grasshopper in to share their winter meal, as they appreciate how his singing spurred them on during their summer labors. In the difference between these two endings, argues Yamada, lies an important lesson: Americans, because of their unique political history, value independence and individuality, while Japanese value mutual dependency and interconnectedness. The language of both cultures is designed to display and reinforce these values so that words, phrases and expressions in one language can have completely different connotations in another, leading to all manner of misunderstanding. Yamada provides numerous examples. In Japan, for instance, silence is valued and halting speech is considered more honest and thoughtful than fluid speech, while in America forthright, polished speech is valued. Likewise, the Japanese use word order to express emphasis, while Americans use vocal stress: a listener unaware of this difference may easily misunderstand the import of a sentence. In a lucid and insightful discussion, Yamada outlines the basic differences between Japanese and American English and analyzes a number of real-life business and social interactions in which these differences led to miscommunication. By understanding how and why each culture speaks in the way that it does, Yamada shows, we can learn to avoid frustrating and damaging failures of communication. Different Games, Different Rules is essential reading for anyone who travels to or communicates regularly with Japan, whether they are scientists, scholars, tourists, or business executives. But as Deborah Tannen notes in her Foreword to the book, even those who will never travel to Japan, do business with a Japanese company, or talk to a person from that part of the world, will find the insights of this book illuminating and helpful, because the greatest benefit that comes of understanding another culture is a better and deeper understanding of one's own.
Haru Yamada
Japan and the United States are in closer contact politically and economically than ever before, yet in many ways our nations are as far from mutual understanding as ever. Misconceptions and miscommunications between East and West continue to plague this important relationship, frustrating the best efforts of both cultures to work together. Stereotypes abound: Americans see Japanese as evasive and inscrutable, while Japanese see Americans as pushy and selfish. What causes these persistent misunderstandings, and what can be done to avoid them? Fluent in both languages and at home in both cultures, Haru Yamada brings an insiders perspective and a linguists training to this difficult question, illuminating the many reasons why Americans and Japanese misunderstand one another. Social organization, she explains, shapes the way we talk. Because American and Japanese cultures value different kinds of social relationships, they play different language games with different sets of rules. In America, for instance, Aesop's fable about the grasshopper and the ants ends with the ants scorning the foolhardy grasshopper. In Japan, however, the story has a very different ending: the ants invite the grasshopper in to share their winter meal, as they appreciate how his singing spurred them on during their summer labors. In the difference between these two endings, argues Yamada, lies an important lesson: Americans, because of their unique political history, value independence and individuality, while Japanese value mutual dependency and interconnectedness. The language of both cultures is designed to display and reinforce these values so that words, phrases and expressions in one language can have completely different connotations in another, leading to all manner of misunderstanding. Yamada provides numerous examples. In Japan, for instance, silence is valued and halting speech is considered more honest and thoughtful than fluid speech, while in America forthright, polished speech is valued. Likewise, the Japanese use word order to express emphasis, while Americans use vocal stress: a listener unaware of this difference may easily misunderstand the import of a sentence. In a lucid and insightful discussion, Yamada outlines the basic differences between Japanese and American English and analyzes a number of real-life business and social interactions in which these differences led to miscommunication. By understanding how and why each culture speaks in the way that it does, Yamada shows, we can learn to avoid frustrating and damaging failures of communication. Different Games, Different Rules is essential reading for anyone who travels to or communicates regularly with Japan, whether they are scientists, scholars, tourists, or business executives. But as Deborah Tannen notes in her Foreword to the book, even those who will never travel to Japan, do business with a Japanese company, or talk to a person from that part of the world, will find the insights of this book illuminating and helpful, because the greatest benefit that comes of understanding another culture is a better and deeper understanding of one's own.
Orlando R. Kelm
Doing business internationally requires understanding not only other languages, but even more so the business practices and cultures of other countries. In the case of Brazilians working with Americans, a fundamental difference for all parties to understand is that Brazilian business culture is based on developing personal relationships between business partners, while American businesspeople often prefer to get down to hard "facts and figures" quickly, with fewer personal preliminaries. Negotiating such differences is crucial to creating successful business relationships between the two countries, and this book is designed to help businesspeople do just that.

Brazilians Working With Americans presents ten short case studies that effectively illustrate many of the cultural factors that come into play when North American business professionals work in Brazil. The authors summarize each case and the aspects of culture it involves, and American and Brazilian executives comment on the cultural differences highlighted by that case. A list of topics and questions for discussion also help draw out the lessons of each business situation. To make the book equally useful to Brazilians and Americans (whether businesspeople or language students), the entire text is presented in both English and Portuguese. In addition, Apple QuickTime movies of the executives' comments, which allow viewers to see and hear native speakers of both languages, are available on the Internet at www.laits.utexas.edu/orkelm/casos/intro.html.

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