• Speaking Japanese to your work peers will make them like you more
  • Be humble when you are complimented 
  • Always arrive early
  • Hang out with them outside work

When in Japan, do as the Japanese do

When you work in Japan, you might find it hard to get along with your Japanese coworkers. If you wish to get closer with them, the best way is to act like them. It is natural for humans to be more accepting to those who are similar to them. So, let’s learn some culture and rules in the Japanese workplace that will help you get along well with your work peers.

Try using Japanese

Like people in many other countries in the world, Japanese people will be happy if a foreign person talks to them in Japanese. They will appreciate that you try hard to speak their mother language to communicate with them, and will think of you as a likeable, nice person. Even if your job does not require Japanese, it is still a good idea to talk to your Japanese coworkers in Japanese to get closer to them. Simple greetings are a good place to start. In the morning, you can greet your work peers with おはようございます (ohayou gozaimasu), and if you want to thank them, you can say ありがとうございます (arigatou gozaimasu). Here are some more phrases that might be useful:

  • こんにちは (konnnichiwa): Hello
  • こんばんは (konbanwa): Good evening
  • ごめんなさい(gomennnasai): Sorry
  • さようなら (sayounara): Good bye
  • いい天気ですね (ii tenki desune): It’s such good weather today.
  • また明日 (mata ashita): See you tomorrow.

Humility is a virtue

In Japanese culture, people put great value on harmony and solidarity. They want to keep good relationships with each other, and one way to do so is by complimenting. Therefore, Japanese people compliment each other often, and what is interesting is they do not accept compliments easily. This is because of the beauty of humility, another value Japanese people have. So when they are complimented, they tend to disagree and make comments about how it is not a big deal about what they got complimented for. For example, if you compliment your coworker for getting a job done so quickly, she would say something like how she was not quick at all and she could have finished it much faster. Likewise, when you get compliments, you are supposed to be humble and say it is not a big deal, instead of saying “Yeah, I’m proud of myself too.” This humble culture can be annoying, but once you understand how to make humble responses to compliments, your peers will find you more likeable.

Don’t be on time, be early

I wrote about this in my article about unspoken rules at work, and I want to mention it again here because this rule is really essential when you work in Japanese workplaces. When you are on time to work and meetings, you are considered late. At work, and in other circumstances, you are expected to arrive early, at least five minutes before. When you are early to work and meetings, you will gain more trust from your boss and coworkers.

Go out to eat or drink together

As I also mentioned this in the article about unspoken rules, this tip has great importance. Being social is another helpful tip to get along with Japanese people since Japanese people value harmony and solidarity. When you are at work, your boss or coworkers will sometimes ask you if you can go out and have dinner or drink with them after work. Unless you have plans, I recommend you to go. It is at bars and restaurants where you get to know more about your boss and coworkers, not at work. Having chats with them over a beer or two and some food can help you learn what kind of people they are and get closer to them. Also, by not only listening to them but also talking about yourself, you can show your work peers that you are open and friendly to them.

Go get them!

If you keep trying these few tips I have shared, you will probably find your work peers starting to  become nicer and more friendly to you. The better you get along with them, the more enjoyable your work will be. So, try the tips and go win their hearts!