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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

In Praise Of Japan - Be Careful

One of the things I discovered early in Japan, is that the Japanese do not suffer praise easily.

That means, they are embarrassed by individual praise and prefer it when you say his or her group performed well.

Now… let’s not go crazy here.

I can certainly say with confidence, “Gee Noboko-chan, your hair sure does smell wonderful.”

I can say that because she is my girlfriend, and there is nothing wrong with offering praise, especially if you want to do more than just sniff hair.

We know that, and the Japanese know that, and I’m sure—where appropriate, all compliments are welcome. Just don’t over due it or it stops losing its potency.

No…  I was talking about the group dynamic of praise.

Let’s suppose Noboko (F) and Masako (F) and Ryuichi (M) were all working together on a school project. Masako was the one who came up with a solution that helped the group present a great project.

You might say, ”Hey guys… great work!”

And that’s where you should leave it.

You should not say, ”Hey guys… great work! Especially you, Masako!”

While it may be true, it’s a no-no in Japanese society.

You have just placed the individual before the group. 

In Japan, the group mentality is all that matters. No one is better than the other (except for bosses).

By heaping additional praise onto Masako and singling her out, we have not only offended the group of Masako, Noboko and Ryuchi, but we have also embarrassed Masako… and not in a good way.

You could certainly tell Masako in private that you think she did a great job… but even then, I would refrain from calling her the star of the group.

Besides, Noboko has hair that smells of green apples.

No… remember to always praise the group, but keep private cheers for private time. 

Andrew Joseph
PS: I was going to call this one "In Praise Of Japanese Women", but that would hardly have been fair to the Japanese men for whom this group mentality also applies.

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