Saturday, January 12, 2008

So The Japanese Don't Think I Am a Boring Speaker

When I first starting traveling and doing "pitches" in Japan, I noticed many times that people in the room would seem to be nodding off in the middle of my presentation. I thought maybe I wasn't being dynamic enough, or maybe they didn't understand English and decided to sleep while I was up there. But then I noticed senior managers nodding off in the middle of round table discussions, allowing their subordinates talk through the issues.

I came to find out over the years that this is an acceptable practice in Japan called inemuri, and the BBC had a section about it on an article on sleep last year. It really is quite common to see this in Japan.

The other thing you see in Japan is people napping during lunch. They have a quick bite to eat then lie with their head on their hands right at their desk. I have walked through rooms at lunch time and have seen a dozen people hunched over in front of their computers. Some companies even have a little "chime" at the end of lunch to alert these nappers that lunch is over and it is time to get to work again.

It's one of those things you get used to after being in Japan for a while, and something you would never see in the U.S.

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