In the Japanese culture, most every kind of communication and action depends on hierarchy. Hierarchy and seniority are extremely important in Japan. When bowing to each other, the person of lower status bows more deeply. When in negotiations, the Japanese expect each side to send people of the same age and position, and they literally sit directly across the table from each other during discussions. In the order of speaking, the person with the highest status speaks last; no matter what is said or determined in a negotiation, the person with highest status speaks the last and most important words. In the same respect, a person of higher status speaks in a polite or casual speech, but the person of lower status is required to use “super-polite” or “respectful” speech. The Japanese do not use words that are too harsh or “strong”. They often use “maybe” and “I think so”, and they usually means the person feels very strongly about something, although Americans look at it as being weak or indecisive. The Japanese use the phrase “had better” instead of “should”, and are shocked to hear that it sounds like a warning or threat. They have been taught that it is more polite. Some other examples of being based on hierarchy are Japanese seating arrangements, and the exchanging of business cards. For instance, pertaining to seating, when sitting in a taxi, the person of higher status sits directly behind the driver, and the lowest ranking person sits next to the driver. When exchanging business cards, which is a very important formality of Japanese businessmen, the people with a higher level exchange their cards first, and then on down the line. At any level of status, when a business card is received, the title on the card is immediately checked to verify the status of the person giving the card. When speaking in a group, the Japanese regard one as having character and maturity when they speak for the good of the group; not weak, as...
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