People in Japan follow the classic power tool pattern in their use of influence techniques.  They prefer logical persuading by a considerable margin, followed by socializing, stating, consulting, and appealing to relationship.  Among the ordinary influence techniques, they use appealing to values relatively more frequently than people in other parts of the world.

The most remarkable aspect of their influence profile is that Japan is ranked number one in the world in avoiding.  It’s worth noting that the top seven countries in avoiding are all Asian:  Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, China, and New Zealand.  A high rating on avoiding means that others perceive the influencer to be holding back, to not be saying what one would expect them to say, to be reticent to act or speak boldly.  In most Asian cultures, people put a high premium on saving face, on not being directly confrontational, on trying not to offend or create conflict.  It stands to reason, then, that Japanese influencers would be perceived as avoiders, especially by people in cultures that are more direct and comfortable with confrontation.  For the Japanese, this reticence is not a negative influence technique but is instead a virtue.

Stating is their third-most-frequently used influence technique, but they use it significantly less often than the global norm, and their effectiveness rating on stating is correspondingly low.  People in Japan are willing to state, but they state in a manner that is appropriate in their culture, and what they would consider stating might not be perceived as stating by people outside their culture.

Socializing is Japan’s second-most-frequently used technique, and it’s their highest-rated technique in terms of effectiveness.  In Japanese culture, socializing is not only well accepted, it is expected, and they do it very well.

In Japan, formal roles and hierarchical authority are important, so they are significantly greater sources of power than in other parts of the world.  Generally speaking, role power is highest in Asian and South American countries and lowest in Europe and North America.

To influence effectively in Japan, use logical persuading as the technique of choice, but recognize that a certain amount of socializing is normally essential before getting down to business.  The Japanese observe some careful interaction protocols that respect people’s organizational and societal roles and positions.  Be sure to respect these protocols.  Finally, recognize that their positions and responses may appear to be indirect or evasive, as in avoiding.  It is likely that they are being as direct as their culture permits.  You will probably have to listen carefully, be patient, clarify and test your understanding, and treat influence as a process rather than an event.  It may require several iterations and interactions to reach a successful conclusion.


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