The communication not to say anything Vol.3 ~Japanese are modest not to tell just as it is~

日本人のコミュニケーション:Japanese communication

Japanese article is here;

At first

Hello, this is MIKA!

It’s the final round of “The communication not to say anything”.

The theme of this article is “Japanese are modest not to tell just as it is”.

I’ll tell you mainly the manners of Japanese communication for the business.

If you want to work in Japanese company, you shouldn’t miss it!

What does it mean, “Being modest”?

Paying your respect to your “Superiors”

“Being modest” means “Paying your respect to your superiors and getting down your position”.

“Your superiors” are your bosses and seniors in the office, your teachers and seniors in the school.

In the other word, it’s the persons who lead you or belonged to the community earlier than you.

I think Japanese learners who have already studied “Keigo”, honorifics in Japanese or started to study it are disgusting for “Superior”, don’t they?

“Why do we have to pay our respect to our superiors?” “Why do we have to be modest just because they are older than us or our siniors?” “All of humans are equal, aren’t we?”—it’s natural to think like those.

Then, why are there the ideas like “Keigo”, “Superior” and “Junior” in Japanese?

The answer is we are affected by “Confucianism” come from ancient China strongly!

“Being modest” is one of the teachings of Confucius

【The statue of Confucius at Yushima Seido, Tokyo】

“Confucianism” had been born by Confucius, ancient Chinese thinker who lived in 6 B.C. The scripture of his thinkings are called “Analects”.

“Confucianism” has been imbibing deeply not only in China but also in present Japanese and Korean society, that’s why it’s the essential element to know about East Asia.

To explain simply, “Confucianism” is the guide of moral education which has been handed down. And there are five virtues called “Gojou”.

First one is “To love and be thoughtful for others”.

Second one is “To act for the society and people”.

Third one is “To get extensive knowledges to tell right from wrong”.

Fourth one is “To be honest and not to tell lies for a trust”.

And finally “To be modest and pay respect to companions”.

It’s interpreted to be modest and pay respect especially to siniors and elders, that’s why “Keigo” has been made.

“Keigo” is the free way to dress you up

By the way, do you like “Keigo”? Or, are you good at it?

Maybe most of you answer “NO!!!”(^^;)

However, it’s the essential element especially for the business in Japanese society which values the relationship between sinior and junior by “Confucianism”.

Defenitely “Keigo” is troublesome enough to confuse also Japanese. However, shall we think it constructively a bit?

For example, we can change the idea for “Keigo” as “The free way to dress you up”. It’s from the remark by Kazlaser, the comedian of “Maple superalloy”, the famous comic duo in Japan. Many people have been impressed by his remark.

I think it’s true too, because “Keigo” is basically beautiful!

In addition, “Keigo” makes you praiseworthy and trusted person. It’s very effective!!

“Cushion word”, the phrase to be modest and thoughtful

What is “Cushion word”?

Anyway, let’s get back to the subject.

“Keigo” is the way to be modest and pay respect to companions, but there is another way of communication to do that.

We call it “Cushion word”!

A cushion is soft and comfortable enough to recuce a shock, isn’t it?

“Cushion word” means the way of expression to reduce the shock with words for companions like a coushion.

Previously I’ve told you Japanese don’t like direct expressions at the article “The communication not to say anything Vol.1 ~Japanese tell indirectly~”.

It’s the same for the business. If you tell “Answer as soon as possible” or “Explain it surely because I couldn’t understand” just as it is for Japanese, it makes them disagreeable.

That’s why it’s better to tell them indirectly with “Cushion words” even if it’s not in Japanese to communicate them smoothly and build a good relationship of trust.

The case to use it

Then, when do we use “Cushion words”?

It’s useful not only for “Superiors” but also clients and customers.

And it’s helpful when you talk directly or with telephone and E-mail because it’s a communication manner.

When we order

At first, I’ll introduce you the cushion words to order.

In that case, 「よろしくお願(ねが)いいたします」 might not be enough, you should put these phrases before that;



to tell an apology like “I’m sorry to make you more busy”. If you do it, you don’t make them unpleasant.

Instead of 「恐れ入りますが」, we can use 「恐縮(きょうしゅく)ですが」too.

Also I recommend you to use 「お手数(てすう)ですが」or 「お手数お掛(か)けいたしますが」 because they mean “I’m sorry to burden you”.

Additionally it’s more politely if you put 「何卒(なにとぞ)」before 「お願いいたします」.

When we ask or suggest

Second, in the case to ask or suggest.

Because there is the possibility that your questions or suggestions make them unpleasant, you should use cushion words to express a careful attitude.

For instance, it’s helpful to use「差(さ)し支(つか)えなければ」before your remark. It means “If it doesn’t matter for you”.

Also you can use「もしよろしければ」, which has the same meaning.

When we refuse invitations or suggestions

Third, in the case when you refuse invitations or suggestions.

As there is the phrase “Japanese can’t sey NO”, we are not good at telling “NO” directly. However, we surely tell it indirectly.

In addition, we make maximum efforts not to make disagreeable the companions with cushion words.

For example, they are the cushion words to refuse;「申し訳ございませんが」「残念(ざんねん)ですが」「せっかくのお誘(さそ)い/ご提案(ていあん)ですが」「誠(まこと)に申(もう)し上(あ)げにくいのですが」.

Anyway, we try hard to tell an apology!

When we contradict

Finally, the case when we contradict.

Japanese aren’t good at contradicting too. However, if it’s necessary, we use also cushion words not to make sullen the companions.

For instance, by putting 「確(たし)かにそうかもしれません。しかしながら……」,”Actually it’s true, but…” in Japanese at first, we esteem the companions’ opinion before telling.

In that case, 「確かにそのような意見(いけん)もあります」, “Actually there is the opinion like that” in Japanese is also useful.

And more, there are other cushion words like them;

「大変(たいへん)申し上げ難(にく)いのですが」, “It’s hard to tell you that, but…”

「お言葉を返(かえ)すようですが」,”I’ll contradict you…”

「差し出(で)がましいようですが」,”I’ll stick your nose,but…”.

Final comment

How was it?

This time, I’ve told you the knowledge of communication which is helpful especially for the business in Japan.

However, it’s better to use cushion words like “I’m sorry to make you more busy” not only for the cliants and customers but also your friends, family and lover.

I think Japanese way of communication is very unique for you, so it’s my pleasure you just know it as a knowledge of language(*^▽^*)♪