Stories from an American Female Japanese Salaryman: Shinsotsu Tales – Be silent, be golden.

(Previous stories in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Silence is the true friend that never betrays or tries to borrow money.

Silence is the true friend that never betrays or tries to borrow money.

Welcome to the wonderful and sometimes paradoxical world of Japanese business meetings.

So you started your life as a shakaijin (社会人, working member of society), and you want to tag along to a sales meeting and get your feet wet? Great! Look at you with all your go-get-’em spirit. There are just a couple of things you have to remember before getting started, newbie. Don’t want to be making any egregious faux pas, right?

The first rule of sales meetings is: you do not talk during the meeting. The second rule of the business meeting is: you DO NOT talk during the meeting!

Third rule of sales meetings: if someone meekly mentions “That it is almost time for their next meeting.”, face goes blank, or says that they “have to think about it”, the meeting is over.

Fourth rule: only one guy gets to speak from your group.

Fifth rule: quit with the small talk, fellas.

Sixth rule: meetings mean print outs for everyone. No sharing papers, no iPads, no forgetting your business card back at your desk.

Seventh rule: meetings will go on as long as they have to, but that is usually exactly 55 minutes.

And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at a meeting, you better stay quiet.

It really depends on your boss and industry, but your main role in the first few months of working as a new grad is to basically exist and absorb what is going on around you. You will not be actively participating until deemed ready, and not a minute sooner. If you are a chatty person, huge blocks of meetings are probably the same as facing time in the gulag.


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