Accurate Communication of Local Situation in Japan

I have been working with US/European/Asian companies who wants to expand their business in Japan – in B-to-B or B-to-B-to-C business domain.

Since Japan is quite isolated from rest of the world, it is usually quite difficult to understand what is really happening on ground and these companies rely heavily on local representative or company to provide accurate information.

However, obtaining the “accurate” information is often quite difficult in Japan for the two reasons.   First of all, Japanese tend to be shy from voicing their own opinion in straight manner.   Therefore, it is often difficult to assess the true message behind the person.   Also, Japan is a village culture – and shy to talk to “outsiders”.   This means they usually do not talk freely about themselves and companies with other companies and even further so to the foreign visitors.

So, how the local representative / companies can obtain the most “accurate” information for foreign companies?

For me, there are always 2 ways:

  1. Create a very special trust relationship with a key person of the organization.   This is not always easy, but without this relationship, it is often difficult to do and maintain a big business with that company – and I am fairly good at building such relationship in relatively short time period. 
  2. “Feel” their energy when you listen to people speaking.  This sounds not very scientific, but we as a human beings always emits certain energies.   For example, if you are careful and sensitive observer, you can tell if the person you met is doing well or “pretending to do well”.    In the same way, you can generally tell if the person is telling you 100% truth, 50% truth or 20% truth – by being sensitive.

Also, you must be very sensitive about your state of being – if you are caught in prejudice, emotions, bias, desire or fear, you will not be able to listen straight and analyze the counterpart’s situation most accurately.

Valuable information can be obtained and delivered as a result – which is the one of the core value that local representative or the company needs to provide.