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Follow Up? Not in Japan.

As an American, the concept of following up with people is deeply rooted in how I operate. When I send something, I call to make sure the person got it. If I don't hear back from someone, I call them to check in. If I order something, I check to make sure my order was received. And, especially with job hunting, I call so many times just to make sure they know who I am and that I am interested.

So, as I am doing business with Japanese companies, I find myself inclined to do the same thing.  Call and check that an order went in.  Call and make sure they remember who I am. E-mail them again if I don't hear back right away. But my wife keeps telling me that is not the way things go in Japan. She tells me that when you e-mail someone, they will get back to you. Just that. Don't send them a follow up. It is just annoying. Just wait until they respond, because they will.

You might not think so, but it is difficult to stop following up. We do it automatically. So many people have told us it is necessary for so long, it has become second nature. So, now I'm trying to stop. But I can't resist the urge.  I sent e-mails last Friday to Japan. So what if it was a 3 day weekend. So what if it was a holiday. So what if I'm not the only customer that company has. I want my response. But I guess I'll have to keep waiting. Gotta do things the Japanese way. Damn I'm inpatient.

Disclaimer: If you're not Japanese, don't worry about it. They expect you to act like an american. I'm only having this problem because my wife is Japanese and they expect us to understand and respect Japanese cultural nuances.

Jonathan Broida
Jonathan Broida


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