Thursday, February 18, 2010

Addendum to Communication in Japan.

Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to make an addition to my very first entry I discussed before about 'communication in Japan.'

As discussed before, Japan is a place where your personal opinion is shunned. This does not mean your opinion cannot be expressed to others at all, but mainly just in the face of the general public. The words "Honne"(True Intentions) and "Tatemae" (Public Stance) are what describe this type of practice in Japan.

American education typically stresses how to individually discuss, argue or debate our stances on issues. Whether it is writing an essay or discussing opinions, Americans are more adapted to accepting these differences in thought. When making an argument, reasons and opinions are typically attached as to why you may feel a certain way.

The Japanese educational system, on the other hand, does not support this type of expression. Japan stresses more "group-thought." They believe that by removing these differences in opinions, there is more peaceful communication. Differences are thought to be an opposition to moving forward; therefore, reading one's thoughts (or "Kuuki wo yomu") are essential to the Japanese. If there is any slight opposition to one's feelings or thoughts, they use this as a way to express their concerns or disagreement (i.e. Pausing a few seconds before saying "Yes" or slightly changing your tone of voice). Since they are also not well adapted to expressing their opinions, a majority of Japanese also encounter problems articulating their feelings into words. Attaching reasons as to why they feel a certain way may be more difficult.

I feel that independent American thought has its advantanges and disadvantages. Although it helps people enforce their opinions and articulate their feelings, it also has potential to breed unnecessary pride, selfishness, lack of modesty and inconsideration of others. While difference in thought is accepted, it can be seen as being 'difficult.'

While the Japanese way of thought enforces group harmony, modesty, and selflessness, it certainly makes understanding people's thoughts much more difficult, and can create a lot of internal stress (which inevitably will create disharmony). This also causes people to use up their energy (or "Ki wo tsukau") for others, just to maintain stability and peacefulness. The idea that 'silence is golden' does not help open communication and understanding of others' true feelings.

It is subjective to say which country has the better outlook and which does not, because both come with their good and bad sides. Ideally, a person who is able to read another person's thoughts and feelings, while expressing their own thoughts and feelings, can strike a perfect balance.

1 comment:

  1. I thin both countries can learn from these two modes of communication. Being expressive and being opinionated can be useful if you learn to control your tongue with respect and civility, but in the same way, being quiet for the sake of harmony can suppress unsettled emotions and feelings that can cause resentment as stated above. How can you figure what is the truth then? I thin if you can understand each other and address the concerns in a polite, empathic matter, it may work.