Challenges of Interpersonal Communication Within the Japanese Culture

Topics: Japan, Communication, Cross-cultural communication Pages: 5 (1877 words) Published: March 17, 2010
Challenges of Interpersonal Communication within the Japanese Culture One way of defining interpersonal communication is to compare it to other forms of communication. In so doing, one would examine how many people are involved, how physically close they are to one another, how many sensory channels are used, and the feedback provided. Interpersonal communication differs from other forms of communication in that there are few participants involved, the people who interact are in close physical proximity to each other, there are many sensory channels used, and feedback is immediate. An important point to note about the contextual definition is that it does not take into account the relationship between the people who are interacting with each other (Borchers, 1999). An understanding of interpersonal communication is an essential element when attempting to form good relationships. Interpersonal communication lies at the junction of our cultural understanding. Consequently, each of these components influences one another in more ways we can imagine. Language is perhaps the most pertinent tool in communications, we may infer to the semantics of each dictionary in the language to understand language as a component on its own. But this is neither the only nor the foremost element of importance in communication due to the complex process by which culture and communication influence each other. Certain cultural etiquettes can regulate the appropriate expression for the language. Real life observations of people who get in trouble for not following the appropriate etiquettes can indicate how something is said and may weigh more importance than what is being said (Herrington, n.d.). Before someone can begin understand a person or his culture, what their daily lives are like must be established, for example their traditions, beliefs even the way they view the world through their eyes. Cultures with high uncertainty avoidance try to minimize uncertainty through strict laws and rules as well as safety and security measures (ClearlyCultural, 2009). People in this kind of society are more emotional, and can possibly be motivated by inner nervous energy.

Japan is a country with strong uncertainty avoidance. The people in Japan are less willing to take risks but are more willing if they are offered security in exchange that can be is considered to be more of a Collectivist culture. Japanese culture has very little tolerance for any kind of ambiguity, and they prefer everything to be organized. If we look at the buses and trains in Japan, this show an example of how the Japanese must follow their schedules to the minute, and even small delays will become the subject of concerns and discussions. Even the business world in Japan follows elaborate procedures, everything must be detailed and there can be no room for misunderstandings. For example, when a proposal is presented, the other parties need to give the Japanese side reasonable time for investigation, risk assessment, and clarification before discussing next steps. This reflects a strong cultural characteristic for the Japanese to be effective; they first strive to eliminate all uncertainties. In 1603, a Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship) ushered in a long period of isolation from foreign influence to secure its power. For 250 years, this policy enabled Japan to enjoy stability and a flowering of its indigenous culture. Following the Treaty of Kanagawa with the United States in 1854, Japan opened its ports and began to intensively to modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1933 Japan occupied Manchuria and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked United States forces in 1941 - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East...

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Collectivism vs. Individualism (2009). Retrieved October 25, 2009 from
De Mente, B.L. (2009). Why the Japanese are a superior people. Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix
Lacy & Nyman. (2002). Doing business in Japan. Retrieved from
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West, R. and Turner, L. (2006). Understanding interpersonal communication. Belmont,
Ca: Thomson-Wadsworth.
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