Monday, October 13, 2003

"Don't assume."

A piece of advice that my parents reinforced over and over and over again when I was younger. Apparently, this is an American value because Japanese people always assume. It works both ways here.

Probably the greatest thing about Japanese people is that they assume. They assume or perceive a need you have, and go at great lengths to meet those needs. This is the famous Japanese hospitality that everybody always talks about. I remember going through Japanese culture training at the LIFE office in LA, and being told never to say that you like something in somebody else's home. Why? Example... when I was in Shizuoka a while ago, I glancingly said that I thought my host family father's old high school baseball uniform was really cool. As a farewell present, guess what I got from the host family father? The same old high school baseball uniform.

At the same time probably the greatest struggles I have with Japanese people is that they assume. I say something, and they think I'm saying something else. This isn't a language barrier issue. It doesn't matter if I'm speaking perfect Japanese. When I speak, people listen to me with the assumption that I'm not speaking with my "honne" or my true intentions/feelings. Of course, being both male and American, I say what I mean or at least I try to. But in the Japanese culture context, to speak my "honne" is perceived as being immature. And so, as Japanese people listen, they try to figure out what I'm really trying to say when in fact, I'm saying what I'm trying to say. Confusing? You betcha. Basically, Japanese people figure that I'm not directly communicating my true intentions when I am. Wow, that was a lot harder to explain than I thought it'd be.

In response to Steve's response... I never knew! Burps? Someone needs to give them cows a crazy mess load of Altoids. And oops, sorry about the mistakes. Guess I'm just ignant in regards to Davis. Yes, that was spelling of ignorant was intentional.

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