Craig Harwood has made more than 70 trips to Japan over the last 30 years. On those trips, he’s worked with key Rockwell Collins suppliers in the country, including Sharp Corporation, our long-time provider of leading-edge display technology for our flight decks.
With this experience, he’s learned much about the culture of doing business in Japan. It serves him well in his current role as director of Supplier Alliance and Strategy for the Displays, Graphics and Power Conversion Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“I love Japan — both the country and the people,” Harwood remarked. “The Japanese are polite and always willing to help.”
These polite traits are common in the business culture, too. For example, saying “no” is considered impolite.
“The Japanese say ‘no’ by being silent,” said Harwood. “So unless you heard ‘yes’ during a business discussion, you got a ‘no.’”
Japanese businesspeople also can be meticulous about answering questions correctly, a characteristic Harwood discovered during his very first meeting in that country.
“A member of our Rockwell Collins team asked what we thought was a simple question,” Harwood recalled. “Our counterparts on the other side of the table turned to each other and had about a 20-minute conversation in Japanese. They then turned to us and responded, ‘yes.’ It was clearly important that they had consensus on the right answer.”
When doing business in Japan, here are five business etiquette tips Harwood has learned over the years.
Getting to know you
Understanding the business etiquette is important, but trusted relationships must be established and nurtured in order to do business, according to Hailin Wen, director of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The Japanese place a lot of value on trust and loyalty, so they want to get to know you before they do business with you,” said Wen. “That takes time and patience. It requires continuous meetings and discussions, demonstrations of support, and delivering as we say we will.”
Japan is a big market with big opportunities for Rockwell Collins, according to Jason Anderson, managing director, North Asia. By executing according to our Vision of being the most trusted source of aviation and high-integrity solutions in the world, we’ll be successful.
“The Japanese have a long-term view of doing business. If we protect their trust, they’ll stand by us and we’ll have success in this market well into the future,” said Anderson.
-By Annette Juergens Busbee