Among basic points covered by Kaneda were initial meetings,
exchanging business cards, traditional seating arrangements,
and developing business relationships. An important aspect
of her presentation was that culture affects how people conduct
business, and that no culture is wrong, just different.
Kaneda said that the traditional Japanese greeting begins with
a low and graceful bow. Eye contact is minimal. When business
cards are exchanged, hold them out in both hands, shoulder height,
facing the person so that they can read it. The person of lower
status (see sidebar) gives the other person their card first.
Seating rituals both depend on and establish status. It’s
clear to see that developing business relationships takes time,
patience, and trust.
Kaneda also shared tips both funny and helpful. Local people
might be used to automatically removing their shoes when they
enter a room, but people from the mainland might not know to
do this at a business dinner. Which is why Kaneda warned to always
check your socks for “puka” to save from potential
embarrassment when removing shoes in front of business clients.
And what about serving alcohol? Again, order is important,
with those of highest status served first. More importantly,
serving the alcohol must always serve himself or herself last.
At the dinner itself Kaneda’s instructions got put into
hands-on practice. Proper business etiquette requires proper
table manners and these were practiced at a six-course meal and
sake tasting. For HPU students who live in a culturally diverse
state such as Hawai‘i, the dinner was a chance to become
aware that not all businesses are run from a western perspective.
This was PRSSA’s second businesss etiquette dinner. The
first one took place last year and featured American business
etiquette. PRSSA advisor Dr. John Barnum said the group hopes
to host these dinners every semester.