Top 5 useless manners at work according to the Japanese

Top 5 useless manners at work according to the Japanese

1140 585 Michaël da Silva Paternoster

Japanese society is regulated by many rules. So many manners pollute young Japanese employees’ workdays. Discover the 5 worst professional customs according to these young workers by reading this article.

By browsing our previous articles you have already had to find out that manners and etiquette are an integral part of Japanese culture. And the Japanese work world is a perfect example of that idea. Indeed, the corporate world in Japan is governed by numerous rules, most of which might seem absurd for westerners.

But strangely some of these rules are not oddities only for “gaijin” (note “foreigners” in Japanese). Japanese society is evolving at its own pace, and many just graduated Japanese employees do not understand why their superiors impose customs that already weigh down their young career.

The R25 website and I Research Institute recently interviewed 200 young employees, 100 women and 100 men working for a company for less than 3 years, to know which workplace manners are parasitizing theirs working days. The results of this research are just below!

5. Being forced to phone call the office to announce that you are sick, instead of sending an email or a LINE message.

Phone call gunshot!

Your state of mind after having to go through 3 different switchboards in order to reach your boss’ line.

In Europe, when an employee is sick, he can send an email to his supervisor or colleagues to warn he will not come to work that day. But this is not socially acceptable in Japan.

In the Land of the Rising Sun, employees have no choice, they must notify their company through a phone call. In a world where communication channels are numerous, the Japanese employers prefer their employees go through the most arduous gateway to contact them. Maybe this is to hear how bedriddens feel bad, and have the guarantee that absentees ae not missing just because of laziness.

4. Bow when a client is in an elevator until the doors close.

Customer cheking in the elevator

The customer who checks. #Skunk

In Japan, it is well regarded to lead customers to the exit of the store or premises. When they are found in the floors of a building, employees escort their customers to the elevator.

But when you leave a customer you have to bow down until he leaves your workspace. And when he enters an elevator to do it, you have to kowtow until the doors close… which can last a long, long time.

3. Having to wait for the client to drink a sip of his tea before doing the same when a meeting takes place in the client’s offices.

Drinking tea angrily

2 hours after the meeting starts, I drink my tea bottoms up in protest. #Badass

It is customary to serve tea at meetings. However, guests should not start drinking their cup before each employees of the host company take a sip of their drink.

Indeed, as a guest, if you rush to your cup of tea, your audience will feel that you have come to enjoy their hospitality rather than to maintain a business relationship with them. In Japan, a thirst can worsen your professionalism so easily.

2. Being forced to answer the phone before the third ring.

Waiting man

The interlocutor who waits.

It is frowned upon to let your business phone ring when you are at your office. It is best to pick up the phone and tell your correspondent he will have to wait a few moments. Well… Why not… But why the third ring specifically? Only old Japanese managers know the answer.

1. Having to be at your desk 5 minutes before the working day really begins.

Cats at work

They are cute, they are all there 10 minutes before the hour. Then we can start! #Overtime

In Japan, the working day does not really start on time. Employees must be at their desk 5 minutes before the time indicated on their contract to ensure that everyone is really ready to work when the bell rings.

The problem does not stop there, because in a country where etiquette is at the center of all social interactions, the most zealous employees do not hesitate to come 10 or 15 minutes before the appointed time. In some teams all members are at theirs desks  before the official workday start time. And since everyone is there, why not start the working day before the scheduled time! Therefore employees start to do overtime from the morning.

Note however that of the 200 respondents, 90 employees say no professional manners really bother them. The Japanese workers are not all jaded by professional customs.

And you, which of these rules would you not be able to withstand everyday during your working hours?

Michaël da Silva Paternoster

French living in Japan since 2016. I work as a manager and marketing consultant for several Japanese and foreign companies.

All stories by : Michaël da Silva Paternoster

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