Listening to feedback from clients who are saving your face


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.

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