Self-Effacing Japanese People

By Richard Posner

Accepting compliments proudly yet graciously is not a strong suit of the Japanese people.  They – and I don’t take the use of  they lightly – will usually deflect or deny their efforts or skills when praise is given.

It is not for me to judge the good or bad of the Japanese character because it serves no purpose.  It just is.

Yet if you want to live or work here, you must understand this societal modesty for what it is:  an attempt to suppress one-upmanship in order to insure stability and cooperation in all aspects of life.

While I would tend to agree with this notion on a personal level and I do practice it in my own stealthy way in Japan, the golden rule for success here is to develop sincere modesty and deflect praise to the person giving it.

While that is a hard pill to swallow for many readers of this blog – and even though this self-effacing character is slowly dissipating among the young here – by and large you will do monumentally better in all affairs with a little bit of humility.

After all, you become better, more efficient, and more successful by learning how to place the blame on yourself when things go wrong while sharing the victory with all players when things are going swimmingly well.

That might be a bitter pill to swallow, if you like to toot your horn and bathe in others’ praise of you, but keep your eye on the ball.  The ball is successful communication and bundles’ of lovely cash in the bank as well.