*N1,2,… is a certificate endorsed by Japanese Language Proficiency Test. N1 being the highest, N5 the lowest.
Speaking a foreign language like a native speaker is a life-long process. There is no end to it. However, we in business do not have the luxury of learning a foreign language life-long to get business done just because it is in a foreign language!
Therefore, English speakers end up forcing their non-English speaker partners to speak English leaving them with less-than satisfactory business competence. If an English speaker is a buyer, he will normally bring an interpreter to be accurate in discussion and respectful to the seller.
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That said, you might agree it is best to be able to speak the customer’s or any partner’s language by ourselves not via an interpreter, if there is such a way at all … when our language skill is N5 in the case of Japanese language – knowing only ohayo-gozaimasu (good morning) and arigatougo-zaimasu (thank you very much)!
So do you want to know my recommendation? Let’s talk about the case of your language and Japanese.
❶The first step is to know exactly what your vital message is that you need the other party to fully understand. I assume the vital message is a word, a phrase, or one or two sentences.
Vital message does not mean "This is the greatest proposition you've never seen before". It is something passionate and warm that comes from inside your core: what you believe in, philosophy behind your business proposition, challenges and pains (yes, showing vulnerabilities wins empathy in Japan and there is a Japanee phrase for that), what matters to you as a person before a business person, etc.
Vital message does not mean "This is the
greatest proposition you've never seen before".
It is something passionate and warm that
comes from inside your core.
❷Next, get a bilingual person familiar with your context to translate your vital message into Japanese or other target foreign language.
❸Last, “insert” those Japanese words, phrases or sentences at the right place in the middle of your speaking English or other common language with your partner. If you have a translator, have her to pause for you to cut in and say your key Japanese phrase or sentence only and let her continue rest of the translating!
If you cannot memorise the words, you can read them from the note. My trainees in crosscultural management seminars posted to China, Thailand, etc. are parroting Chinese, Thai phrases in a car on the way to the customer’s place. They all report to me this pragmatic method works in penetrating the local customers when in fact they can only speak a smattering of the local language.
❹There's one last secret for those of you who are more adventurous. Ask your bilingual friend to find a proverb, a passage from a well known song or movie or a classic literature of the partner's culture that matches your vital message! Your partner's face will broaden into a grin!
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Sure you won’t become fluent this way. But this street-smart way saves you time and gives a strong impression that you are seriously interested in starting business with them. Your sincere attitude of extra miles will make your partner smile without a doubt.
As you repeat this process with your key messages one meeting after another, your list of only the necessary words and sentences will grow. You will gain the communication skills even N1 holders don't have.
To succeed with this method, make sure you get the right translation. They need to be piercing, hitting home and touching a string of heart.
I’ll be showing you how in my webinar Dec. 17th “Secret Japanese Phrases That Make Japanese Bosses & Customers SMILE (^^)”. Your valuable 60 minutes will turn out to be a good investment for your business and relationship with your Japanese or any foreign partners. See you soon!
**Don't miss Year End “Bonenkai” - Laughs & Wishes!! on Dec. 19th! Bonenkai is a Japanese way to close the year by leaving everything behind and get ready for a new year fresh. (^^)
●Dec. 19th - Year End “Bonenkai” - Laughs & Wishes!!
●Latest webinar dates - insightful Success Japan Webinar is twice a month! Japan watchers are gathering from around the world. See you in 2021! ^^