Nonverbal communication in Japanese culture

Japan“We Japanese” is a phrase that you will typically hear in Japanese social and business interactions. Although Japanese are generally a bit more individualistic than people in other parts of Asia, they will outwardly strive to present a unified opinion. It is essential to understand the subtle ways that leaders build consensus to nurture the strong support and loyalty of the teams and companies they lead.

Traditional Japanese Worldview

Group Orientation
Identity defined by group, family, company

Harmony within group very important

Relationship Focused
Personal interaction takes precedence over tasks

Patterns of rank and status observed

Need for Certainty
Rules for appropriate behavior are known and should not be broken

Requires reference to context. Relationships are given priority

Exact Time
Punctuality is important, particularly in business

Cultural Note: Japan is one of the most homogeneous societies in the world, being over 99% ethnic Japanese with only a small Korean minority. The country has historically resisted outside influences and the U.S. used force in 1853 to open the country to outside markets by sailing the navy into Tokyo Bay.

Traditional Japanese Cultural Assumptions

  • Emotional sensitivity highly valued
  • Respect for authority/tradition
  • Group harmony is essential
  • Simplicity/humility highly valued
  • Gaining wide consensus on decisions
  • Face-saving crucial to relationships
  • Sense of continuity with the past
  • Social responsibility

Traditional Japanese Communication Style

Imply/suggest what is meant. You need to read between the lines and develop a good relationship.

High Context
Background information assumed depending on nature of relationship.

Sensitivity to hierarchy/face saving very important.

Emotionally Restrained
Emotional expression is distained as unprofessional. Trust and credibility are developed through emotional suppression.

Message can weave and wander.

Non-Verbal Dynamics

Bowing is the traditional form of greeting, but handshakes are common as well, although gentle rather than firm. Dramatic gestures, arm movements or facial expressions are best avoided, as unintended meanings can be attributed. Reserved body language is ideal.

Touching is kept to a minimum between acquaintances, although in crowds and amongst strangers, Japanese will push themselves against others to get to their destination.


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discuss 3 forms of nonverbal communication in the japanese culture? | Yahoo Answers

Bowing their head down is one form of non verbal communication in Japanese culture.. a lot of females do it to show respect. They also nod their head as a form of a way to say hello.

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