Basic Work Culture in Japan!

*Work Culture*

Business card exchange

The exchange of business cards, called meishi koukan (名刺交換), is a formal self-introduction with the aim of remembering the other person’s name and role to aid future correspondence. Especially in Japan, it demands more care and attention to the process than is usually found in western countries.

The most important points to remember:

  • The highest-ranking people exchange cards first
  • Give and receive cards using both hands
  • Ensure the card is turned towards the receiver
  • Keep received cards on display for the duration of the meeting in receiving order
  • Treat the cards you receive with respect (no writing, no folding)

For perfectionists, here are the full steps for exchanging business card in Japan like a pro:

  • Prepare the number of cards you will need to exchange
  • Place your business cards on top of your business card holder
  • Make sure your cards are facing towards the receiver so that they can read the text
  • If you have a bilingual card, ensure the correct language of the receiver is facing up
  • Use your right hand to offer your card, holding it by the top corner
  • Ensure no names or logos are covered up when you offer your card
  • Hold the business card holder in your left hand
What to say when you exchange

When you give your card you should introduce yourself as you offer your card with a phrase like the one below. Be sure to mention your company and your name.

Japanese  Romaji English
はじめまして。「GaijinPot」の Johnと申します。よろしくお願いします。 Hajimemashite. Gaijinpot no John to moshimasu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Hello. I’m John from GaijinPot. Nice to meet you.

When receiving the other person’s card, it’s common practice to confirm their name and say thank you for the card, as below:

Japanese  Romaji English
頂戴いたします。田中さんですね。よろしくお願いします。 Choudai itashimasu. Tanaka-san desu ne. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Thank you for your card. Your name is Mr. Tanaka, I see. It’s nice to meet you.
In a meeting

Arrange cards on top of the cardholder or on the table in the seating order.

The standard practice is to keep the card on display for the duration of the meeting (or until a suitable time comes up), usually by placing it on top of the cardholder on the table.

In the case of receiving several cards, you should arrange them left to right in the order of seating, as seen from your own point of view. The purpose of this is to learn the names of the people you are speaking to and to show respect. After all, the business card is the face of the other person!




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