This is the last part of the Closing the Cultural Gap series. We’ll be approaching Japan and Eastern European business relationships from the following angles: Trusting, Disagreeing, Scheduling and last, but not least, Persuading.
The notions of cognitive trust and affective trust generate a relative scale on which the Japanese are placed towards around the middle, seeking balance, but with a slight preference for the relationship-based kind of trust (affective). Cognitive trust is based on the confidence you have in a person’s accomplishments, skills and reliability, whereas affective trust arises from feelings of closeness and empathy. The Japanese will do their best to cultivate a relaxed business environment as they tend to prefer affective trust.
Eastern Europeans also value honest partnership. As outsourcees, they will always do their best to maintain a good business relationship. But in order to stay motivated and productive, they will also need the flexibility and freedom of decision making, regardless of how Japanese bosses invest them with empathic trust.
Closing the gap:
If the basic Eastern European criteria are met, invest your business partner with your trust, until you have proof of the opposite. Allow your outsourcees to be innovative and try to go that extra mile when it comes to team buildings or business dinners.
Regarding businesses, on a scale between confrontational and non-confrontational, the Japanese rely heavily on the non-confrontational extreme. In Japan, there is a continual struggle to maintain harmony with others, as such, and in relation to their high-context communication style, it is extremely unlikely that they use direct disagreement methods.
Confrontational cultures hold disagreement and debate as being positive for the team or organization. Open confrontation will not directly affect relationships in their vision. Eastern Europeans also prefer to avoid confrontation, as it can be seen as a negatively impacting performance. It can break group harmony and affect business relationships. This means they could need a conflict management procedure and clear guidelines to follow if a conflict arises.
Closing the gap:
When you express your disagreement towards Eastern Europeans, be constructive and only make objective comments, without diminishing anyone’s personal value. Always use discernment to voice your concerns and ask about possibilities in conversation.
When it comes to business scheduling, the Japanese run in an M-time manner – pretty much on the same page as Eastern Europeans, which eases long-term business relationships considerably. M-time cultures (in opposition to polychronic time cultures, P-time) work with punctuality, project steps are approached in a sequential and transparent fashion. P-time cultures work with approximates, they are fluid, they adapt.
Closing the gap:
As stated, Eastern Europeans tend to prefer the M-time page, which sits absolutely well with Japan. If Eastern Europeans still seem not to comply with your M-time culture, show willingness to review certain items, even if you already agreed on them. Politely ask for an explanation if schedules don’t seem to be followed. If Eastern Europeans sometimes seem not to follow the plan, it doesn’t mean they are disorganized – it is just a question of perspective.
Persuasion is crucial when it comes to any kind of business, either for developing or maintaining one. What is really interesting is that Asian cultures fall off the Persuading scale completely. This is because the view of the world in these cultures is so different from European-influenced cultures that an entirely different frame of reference, unrelated to the Persuading scale, comes into play: Holistic Thinking.
Eastern Europeans use the „principles first approach”, which stems out of inductive reasoning. General conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations. This means that in any negotiation or presentation, they will first present the arguments, documents or data based on which they will further express their opinion/conclusion. This approach is called specific and comes in opposition with the Japanese holistic thought patterns.
Closing the gap:
What is the difference and how it can be overcome?
When dealing with Japanese management, you need to have the patience to accrue the details. Most of the world treats individual figures separate from their environment, whereas the Japanese (and Asians, overall), give much more attention to backgrounds and the links between these backgrounds AND the central figures. As such, most good bosses should strive to get comfortable with both holistic and specific approaches. Regardless, Eastern Europeans will all need to be left in the loop, preferably via the principles fist approach, so that everyone stays on the same page.
We hope that through this 8 part series we, at 112HUB, helped in making all kinds of businesses, especially outsourcing, more multiculturally friendly. Make sure to visit our blog!