“Hey, how are you doing,” is an acceptable form of greeting often used between American business people alongside a handshake. But, if you think that’s an acceptable greeting for your international partner, think again.
In Japan, we don’t shake hands, but rather bow to greet each other. We bow like Americans shake hands. It’s hard to explain how to bow, but the thing to remember is if you rank lower than the person in front of you, you bow deeper.
Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to a professional greeting in Japan:
- With feet and legs together, stand up straight.
- Stand up to bow if you’re seated.
- Don’t stand in a higher place when you bow.
- Keep your hands out of pockets.
- Bow at about 45 degrees.
- Men, keep arms and hands to the side. Women, keep hands crossed in front.
Depending on the country, the proximity to each other may be important as well. If you’re unsure of what to do, the best advice I can give is to watch and learn. If you pay attention to the locals, you can pick up their techniques for a proper, professional greeting.
Even though most Japanese business people don’t expect you to know the formalities of their traditional greeting, it’s a wonderful way to show respect and charm your partner with a great first impression and act of respect.