Japanese Communication Style, Do Japanese Communicate Differently?

Level: Advanced. Please check Japanese Culture for simpler, basic information.

Japanese Communication Style

Self-Conception Interdependent (e.g., I belong to… statements)
Ingroup/Outgroup boundary Strict (Company, school, circle, family members are treated very differently)
Wa (Harmony) Omnipresent
Enryo (Conformity) High (Self-deprecating statements are encouraged, harmony requires conformity)
Context Effects High Context/Implicit (e.g. Do you think it is hot in here?)
Uncertainty Avoidance High (e.g. different things should be avoided)
Power Distance High ( huge gap between superiors and subordinates)
Masculinity/Femininity Masculine (Male dominant society, same sex friendships)
directness Indirect(Cautiousness and indirectness needed for harmony, synthetic thinking (focusing on the whole) vs analytic thinking)
Ingroup/Outgroup Conversation Honorifics and different words used for outsiders. Honne vs tatemae, uchi vs. soto
Purpose Information Transmission (persuasiveness should always be avoided)
Topic Management and Turn taking Take turns evenly, use aizuchi
Silence Presence of seniors, outsiders, different gender make it hard to talk. Silence has different meanings.
competence Low confidence in English skills, purpose is instrumental (to get a job)
Uncertainty Reduction Focus on nonverbal behaviour and group membership, background info.
Self-disclosure Low self-disclosure, might not reveal the truth (Honne/tatemae)
Nonverbal Aspects Positive emotions are displayed more often
Relationship Development Amae and sasshi are important in all stages, co-worker and class-mate relationships are more intimate than family relationships
Privacy Use passive-withdrawal when privacy is threatened
Communicaton Style Relaxed, passive criticism, expression of own limitations when admired someone, no explanations after an apology
Predispositions twd. Verbal Behavior More assertive, response, talk longer,erabi world view.
Emotional Expression No actions needed to deal with emotional feeling
Face Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Losing face when disappointing group members. Dominating and integrating negotiations.
Expectations A person who is not direct, not dominant in conversation and tolerating silence

American Communication Style

Self-Conception Independent (e.g., I am … statements)
Ingroup/Outgroup boundary Loose (comm. with strangers does not have distinctive patterns
Wa (Harmony) Not so important
Enryo (Conformity) Low  (independence is a virtue)
Context Effects Low Context/Explicit (e.g., Can you open the window? Sentences starting with I and words like absoluteley, certainly…)
Uncertainty Avoidance Lower (e.g. different things are waiting to be discovered)
Power Distance Low (superiors and subordinates communicate the same way)
Masculinity/Femininity (Relatively)Feminine  (Males and females are more equal, friendships with opposite sex)
directness Direct (subject Centered, analytic thinking (focusing on parts))
Ingroup/Outgroup Conversation No Distinctive comm. Between outgroup members
Purpose Persuasion (language can be used to convince others, threats are not unusual)
Topic Management and Turn taking conversation starter makes most of the talk, questions and comments instead of backchanneling
Silence words are used to control situation, silence is not liked
competence Fluent Japanese speakers are uncommon and usually not much appreciated.(the law of inverse returns)
Uncertainty Reduction Focus on verbal communication and individual ideas opinions
Self-disclosure High disclosure, ask more questions (not age and marital status).
Nonverbal Aspects Negative emotions (distress, anger) displayed more often.More eye contact and more touching
Relationship Development No amae-sashi in advanced relationships, co-worker relationships are not necessarily seen intimate
Privacy Use active-aggressive strategies
Communicaton Style  Attentive, active criticism, direct admiration, explain own behavior after an apology
Predispositions twd. Verbal Behavior Less assertive, talking a lot is looked down, awase world view.
Emotional Expression Emotions are experienced for longer time and with higher intensity, explicitly stated
Face Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Losing face when personally fail in an individual activity.Avoidance used to resolve conflict
Expectations A person who is expressive and has a sense of humour but not self conscious.

Source: Gudykunst & Nishida, 1994.

Japanese lessons  for kids

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