In Japanese culture, tradition and protocol are very important. In the business world, too, there are a number of things to bear in mind in order not to miss out on opportunities. However, most Japanese are aware that other nationalities have different customs. As long as there is respect and understanding for the Japanese culture, they will turn a blind eye.
A few guidelines on Japanese business etiquette:
- You make a very good impression by being 5 minutes early for a meeting.
- Only wear business attire to business related events.
- Act and talk in a modest way and be polite.
- When you meet a Japanese businessman or -woman you need to bow first and then wait if he or she will offer a handshake.
- Business cards are given with both hands and with a little bow. Keep the card on the table until the meeting is finished.
- Seating is determined by status. Wait for the host to lead you to your seat.
- You cannot refuse food or drinks during a meeting. It will come over as rude. You are not obliged to consume, but when you do and you do not want a refill do not finish your drink or plate.
- Business deals are not made in a first meeting. It takes an amount of time to get to the actual conclusion of a deal.
The official language of Japan is Japanese. Not many locals are fluent in English, but most business people can speak a fair bit of English.