Takahashi invited me for supper after the lecture on “Interfaces between R&D and Customer Service: A Cultural Perspective”.
He and I had dined several times before; the ice between us was thawed.
Takahashi had spent 2 years in the States as a young boy, so his English sounded good yet I knew he was traditional.
After an hour, Takahashi had not said a word about my lecture and I was concerned. Naturally, I wanted to ask “how was it” but I knew Takahashi was a face saver and he will give me negative feedback in a year from now, if not in two years. Israelis are in a hurry; not Japanese.
So, here is what I did.
1) “Takahasi-san, the subject today was very complex and I am not sure my lecture was clear enough.” Then I waited.
2) “Takahasi-san, my power point slides appeared a bit crowded. I am always worried how much detail to provide in Japan.” Then I waited.
3) Takahashi –san, I need to give this lecture in Taipei in a week, what can I change?
Takahasi looked at me and asked me, “How good is their English, Shevat-san?” I knew I was in close to the issue, and I answered, “Like Japan”.
Takahashi then said: “Your lecture was excellent Shevat-san because although you are from OD, you understand technical domain. You also understand Japan. You also have lots of global experience. I suggest you “talk slower so people can understand you. Thank you”
What can be learnt from this?
1) Some clients save your face-be aware. And too much face means-look for what’s wrong.
2) Make deprecating statements and wait for a response.
3) Look for hints, body language, eye contact and the unsaid.