If you mistake the way of communicating with your colleague or boss in your office in Japan, it becomes a fatal factor to survive in-house politics. Moreover, you end up working in a mood that makes you feel so cramped because of isolation

For those who don’t understand the Japanese company’s culture, I summaries the basic rule of how to treat your Japanese boss in and out of your office.

When passing by your boss at a staircase


When I am walking down the stairway, my boss is walking up from below at the same time. He seems not to realize me


When you happen to meet your boss on your way, it is natural for you to greet your boss at any rate.

However, it is not good to greet your boss from the upper position of a stairway. But that isn’t to say, if waiting for the present position until your boss comes up to greet, you are too careful with your boss.

First of all, at the time you realize a boss coming up from below, you make a light bow regardless of whether your boss realizes you or not. When you get close to your boss with a couple of stairs away, you wait there till your boss comes up.

When your boss steps on the same level of a stair that you stand on, turn your body to your boss and greet formally.

If there is the landing of stairs on your way, you go down there and you greet your boss at the time your boss steps on the landing.

When you at an elevator with your boss


When I get in an elevator, a boss already stands there. While we go up to our office, there is an awkward silence. What should I talk to him?


You don’t need to force yourself to talk to your boss if you have nothing to talk about. Even if you keep your mouth shut, nobody receives a negative impression from you in Japan.

If I have to say something you need to do in this case, you should make a soft mood with a good smile to show your intention that “I am willing to talk to you if you talk to me.”

If you want to take a day off suddenly


I really want to skip my workday next week to go to a beach with my friends. How can I make excuses to my boss who always reminds me of letting him know day-off dates as early as possible?


Attitude is everything. Even if your day off is generally recognized by the labor law, it is no good to strongly insist on your working right one-sidedly, if you want to keep a good relationship with your boss.

First of all, you need to take an attitude of apology towards a sudden day off and ask your boss to get the permission of your day off with your task compensation.

You can easily come up with words if you imagine the situation by putting yourself in the boss’s shoes.

If you don’t want to do overtime


After work, when I am about to leave my office to go out for dinner with my boyfriend, my boss is suddenly calling out to me and he assigns me a task. How dare he treats me like this just right before leaving. I am going to absolutely refuse this task


Not sounding harsh, you have to refuse work orders from your boss with alternative proposals.

For example, “ I’m sorry but I already have different plans tonight. Is it possible to make it tomorrow?”

In Japan, the behavior that prioritizes your personal affairs over work orders will diminish your credibility in your office.

You create a mood you want to leave the office and ask if your boss can reschedule your task compensation for another day.

If you have no mercy to refuse the task with a bullish tone because duty hours have already passed, your boss may react sharply against your attitude and never gives your permission to leave or give a penalty if you forcibly leave.

If you want to refuse an offer from your senior on your day off


My senior asks me if the next Sunday is available. He tries to invite me to golf together on that day. I don’t have any schedules on that day but I don’t want to go with him because the next Sunday is my day off.


Regardless of whether you have a schedule or not, you have to tell a fake schedule which make your senior think it important enough to prioritize over golf.

For example, if telling your senior a scenario that one of your relatives come to your place all the way from the countryside and you have to welcome him/her, it is difficult to invite you to golf forcibly.

The point is if your senior feel your fake schedule is more important than playing golf.

In contrast, if you tell your fake schedule that you are hanging out with your friend somewhere with a scary tone, you give an impression to your senior that you really want to run away from the senior’s offer.

If you want to take objection to your senior without giving bad impression


During the meeting, an opinion that my senior insisted on is based on obviously wrong information. How can I indicate him without sounding harsh?


In many cases, Japanese people confuse constructive criticism with personal criticism on a discussion. When own proposal or opinion is clearly denied, Japanese people seem to feel they are attracted by the critic with hatred mind.

Japanese people place very much weigh on their own honor. No matter how correct what you are thinking is, if you push your fair argument too much, you give him a chance to send smoke signals of serious counterattack.

Even if you don’t think that way, you temporarily agree on his opinion once and you indicate where you think it wrong as a form of advice or suggestion as you lead his mind to realize his wrong premise of the opinion by himself.

If you want to discuss with your boss but he seems to be very busy


I want to discuss quotes to our client but my boss is really busy enough to create a mood “stay away from me”
What should I start to talk to him?


Starting with your business to your boss all of sudden is inconsiderate in this case. While you observe your boss, if there is no chance to cut in because of non-stop work, you should ask if a boss will have room to make time for you.

For example, you ask your boss, “do you have a minute?”

First of all, you should ask the boss’s convenience if it is the right timing to discuss it.

If you messed up the drinking party last night, how would you communicate with your boss in the next morning?


I was too drunk and messed up the drinking party last night. I might have shouted something crazily around the pub. To be honest, my boss was really in trouble about how to treat me then. How can I speak to him today?


If you regret what you did last night and think that you caused trouble with others, you just express your honest feeling to your boss. Say, “I am sorry” without any excuses.

In most cases, mistakes at drinking tend to be overlooked.

But, don’t sweep trouble under the rag. Getting away with your mistake as if nothing happened is the trigger for diminishing your credibility in your office

If you don’t want to join the after-party and after-after party.


My boss is persistently asking me to join after-party. Give me a break. I have to get up early tomorrow and want to go back home somehow. Are there any good ideas to start on my way back home?


A keyword of “tired” makes people catch its meaning as “you don’t like to be with us”. Not to be misled by your boss, you just tell the clear reason that you have to return back home by all means.

For example, if you are sick, your sickness will directly influence your work productivity. If thinking this way, your boss refrains from asking you a persistent after-party offer.

Pretending to be sick is more effective to make your boss stop inviting you an after-party

If your boss says, “it is on me”


After work, I go out to a pub with another section’s boss. I am not really close to the boss. When processing payment, the boss is saying to me, “this is on me.” Can I honestly accept his kindness?


Keep it in your mind that you always take an attitude to pay for what you drunk and ate even if someone seems to give a treat to you.

You, at least, have to take your wallet out of your pocket to show your intention that you pay for what you drunk and ate yourself.

However, Stubbornly turning down boss’s treat just because you feel sorry makes the boss feel underestimated.

You just say, “Thank you”, and accept his kindness honestly.

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