Moose 78

In Japan, if a colleague folds their arms, they are:

Answer: A - Thinking carefully.  Folding the arms during conversation is a thinking gesture, not a hostile gesture.

The Japanese language is filled with nuances and subtle meanings that are often suggested by body language and tone, rather than syntax. Other physical gestures of which to be aware in Japan include:

  • Nodding acknowledges one is listening to a speaker, and understands. Pausing momentarily when asked a question tells your audience that you are taking the question seriously.
  • When referring to themselves, Japanese will often point to their noses.
  • The Japanese tend not to touch others in social situations.
  • Although a Japanese businessperson may appear uninterested in a meeting, they may in reality be concentrating on what is being said. Closed eyes can indicate concentration.
  • Smiling not only indicates happiness, but is also used to hide unpleasant emotions in public.

Source:  Living Abroad’s Japan Report: Gestures and Body Language

Written by Michael Cadden, SGMS-T, VP International Operations

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