Many people might not know about this, but if you find yourself in Japan without a business card, you might make a really negative impression.
Japanese people are known for their politeness, cleanliness, and basically an overall sense of order, so if you’re going to Japan for the first time, you might notice a couple of “rules” you may need to follow to show that you are being a respectful foreigner.
For instance, not carrying a proper stack of business card is actually considered “rude”.
If you’re a gaijin, or an “outsider”, the Japanese might only be slightly offended, but others might not be as forgiving.
So what’s the big deal about business cards anyway?
According to Gaijinpot, a website that gives foreigners information about working, studying, and living in Japan, business cards are considered a formal introduction of the person that is in front of you. This is a well understood protocol that is very important among Japanese. In fact, because business cards serve as an extension of a certain person and should be treated with utmost respect, you can’t just take it and shove it inside your pocket.
There are specific rules to exchanging business cards in Japan:
- The one with a higher position gives the card first.
- Give and take the card using both hands.
- The card should be facing down when you give it to the receiver.
- Keep the card on display during the interaction.
Harrison Jacobs of Business Insider recently talked about his experience when he traveled to Tokyo for BI’s international edition launch. After forgetting what he refers to as “something he rarely uses in the U.S.” and realizing the importance of business card etiquette among Japanese. He said:
“Japan is, at its core, a country of rituals, respect, and etiquette… No business can begin until cards are exchanged because the exchange itself indicates the beginning of a relationship.”