Sunday, August 20, 2017

Japanese Telephone Etiquette


In a world where good manners and decorum are vanishing almost as fast as the polar icecap, Japan is one country where proper telephone courtesy is still practiced, especially in the business environment.

Dial up a Good Impression 

with Denwa Echiketto


“Moshi-moshi. Kochira wa Japan Taimuzu no Shuraibaa to moshimasu. Itsumo wo sewa ni natte orimasu” (“Hello, this is Schreiber of the Japan Times. Thanks as always for your kind support.”)


In a world where good manners and decorum are vanishing almost as fast as the polar icecap, Japan is one country where proper telephone courtesy is still practiced, especially in the business environment. Business-related calls generally demand the use of honorifics, and this requires some rote memorization and probably pronunciation drills. Fortunately, however, learning a dozen or so standard phrases will get you through most situations.


First, obviously, identify yourself and state the purpose of your call. If you’re calling a company’s 0120 furi daiyaru (toll-free) number, have your reason rehearsed in advance, e.g., “I am calling from Maebashi City, where I just purchased a box of your Krunchy Kornflakes and it’s crawling with mealworms.”


If you wish to speak to a certain Mr. Sato that works in a big office, it’s better to add his first name — say Hiroshi — so you would ask, “Sato Hiroshi-sama irasshaimasu ka? (Is Mr. Hiroshi Sato there?).”


Perhaps the section or person you’re calling has a chokutsu bango (direct dial number). If you go through the main switchboard the operator might ask, “Okyakusama wa?” or “Dochira sama desho ka? (May I ask who’s calling?).” You reply with your affiliation and surname, followed by to moshimasu(speaking). The response is likely to be, “Ima omawashi itashimasu node, shosho omachi kudasai (Please wait, I’ll transfer you).”


If you are asked “Goyoken wa nan desho ka? (What is the purpose of your call?),” you can explain, or simply say, “Kojinteki no koto desu (It’s a personal matter).”


Say you get put right through, only to be told, “Taihen osoreirimasu ga . . . (I’m very sorry but . . .)” followed by explanations like:


* “Chotto mada kaisha ni dete orimasen (He hasn’t come in yet).”


* “Taidaima denwachu desu . . . (He’s on the other line).”


* “Ima chotto seki wo hazushite orimasu ga. . . (He’s not at his desk now).” This means he’s come to work but not visible to the speaker.


* “Honjitsu wa oyasumi wo totte orimasu (He’s off today).”


* “Ima dete orimashite, honjitsu wa modoranai yotei desu (He’s left and probably won’t be coming back to the office).”


* “Honjitsu wa mo kaerimashita (He’s already left for the day).”


A helpful colleague might offer, “Orikashi denwa wo sasemasho ka? (Shall I have him call you back?)” to which you can respond, “Iie, nochi hodo aratamete denwa itashimasu (No, I’ll call back later).”


Or you can request that you be called by saying, “Daiji na yoken desu node, daishikyu denwa wo itadakitai no desu ga (It’s an important matter, so I’d like him to return my call urgently).” When you give your number, note that zero should be pronounced as either “rei” or “zero,” and never as “oh.” Four is always pronounced “yon” since its other reading, “shi,” can easily be mistaken for shichi (seven).


If you didn’t get through the first time and are calling back, you can say, “Tabi-tabi sumimasen (Sorry to keep bothering you),” and then take it from there. If the person has been transferred to a new department and you’re informed of his or her new number, read it back to confirm you’ve heard correctly, by saying, “Kurikashimasu or fukusho shimasu (let me repeat that),” followed by the number. A few old-fashioned people might still use the words shigai bango (city code, e.g., Tokyo zero san) or kyoku (exchange).


Finally, it is very important to also end the conversation politely. You might say, “Sore dewa, yoroshiku (Please remember me),” and when you hear the other party say “Shitsurei itashimasu” (which in this particular case means, “I’m going to hang up now”), That’s your cue to repeat the same.


Proper telephone etiquette will win favor with the denwa toban, the person delegated to answer the phone and relay calls. This in turn can help you cut through red tape to get things done faster — and with less confusion and frustration. — Japan Times, 2007

Spaghetti Etiquette

Old Italian artwork in background on a 1992 magazine cover, shows how pasta was once eaten properly — Today, spaghetti-eating etiquette demand forks. Fists full of wet pasta are simply not acceptable on any 'civilized' occasion.

 "A North American father, presumably initiating his son, aged 15, into the world of adult business affairs, took him out to what the boy described as 'a big dinner meeting.' When the company was served spaghetti, the boy ate it with his hands. 'I would slurp it up and put it in my mouth,' he admitted. 'My dad took some grief about it.' The October 1985 newspaper article does not describe the response of the rest of the company. The son was sent to a boarding school to learn how to behave. 'When we have spaghetti,' he announced later, 'you roll it up real tightly on your fork and put it in your mouth with the fork.'

What he described, after having learned it, is the dinner-table ritual --as automatic and unquestioned by every participant in it, as impossible to gainsay, as the artificial rules and preferences which every cannibal society has upheld. Practical reasons can be found for it, most of them having to do with neatness, cleanliness, and noiselessness. Because these three general principles are so warmly encouraged in our culture, having been arrived at, as ideals to be striven for, after centuries of struggle and constraint, we simply never doubt that everyone who is right-minded will find a spaghetti eating companion disgusting and impossible to eat with where even one of them is lacking. Yet we know from paintings and early photographs of spaghetti eaters in 19th century Naples (where the modern version of spaghetti comes from) that their way of eating pasta was with their hands-- not that the dish was likely to appear at a formal dinner. You had to raise the strings in your right hand, throwback your head, then lower the strings, dexterously with dispatch, and without slurping (there are invariably 'polite' and 'rude' ways of eating), into your open mouth. The spaghetti in the picture does not seem to have sauce on it.

Today, spaghetti-eating manners demand forks, and fist fulls of wet pasta are simply not acceptable on any 'civilized' occasion. The son's ignorance cast a dark reflection upon his father: he had not been doing his duty, had not given his child a proper 'upbringing.' Even if the boy had not seen spaghetti before, he subsequently admitted that what he ought to have done was to look about him, watch how other people were eating this awkward food, and imitate them. In any case, the options were clearer after this demonstration of an ineptitude: either the boy learns his table manners, or he would not be asked to 'a big dinner meeting' again by anyone who had heard of his unfinished education." Margaret Visser, The Rituals of Dinner

Etiquette and Socioemotional Skills

"Children don’t always understand the reasons for social niceties or good manners, and may view them as arbitrary or nonsensical. Helping children understand the “whys” of social etiquette can facilitate their buy-in and, thus, their social development. For example, you could explain, “When we say hello and look people in the eye, it sends the message that we are glad to see them. We value them and want them to feel welcome.” — BrightHorizons.com on helping to foster socioemotional development 

A 2016 study found the value and importance of social skills in children, and that keeping more children on track to high school graduation, full-time jobs and out of the criminal justice system, could start in kindergarten.

Researchers tracked more than 700 children from kindergarten to age 25. They found students’ manners and social skills (cooperation, listening to others and helping classmates), held strong clues for how those children would fare 20 years later. In some cases, social skills were better predictors of future success, than academic skills.

Damon Jones, a senior research associate at Penn State University, discussed the finding, and said that the study was aimed at exploring the influential role of socioemotional skills in children in terms of human development in general.

"You know, there are a lot of studies that looked at  cross-research disciplines that look at socioemotional skills. Sometimes, they’re called soft skills, sometimes noncognitive skills. And what these represent are kind of key characteristics in children representing things like managing their state, having good relationships, being responsible socially, interacting well with adults, and then getting things done. It’s really key skills in early development that you can see would be very important in being successful in school and in relationships." 


The U.S. study, of four different sites, Durham, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, Central Pennsylvania, and Seattle, Washington, was done over a 20 year period. According to Jones, "We were really interested to see these really long-term predictions. I think, a lot of times, when people look at socioemotional skills, they may be focused on more concurrent outcomes, like how well the child is doing in school or their relationships. In this case, we really wanted to look at markers of well-being. And we had great data, where we had — we were able to follow these children for over 20 years, and were able to see these markers of well-being across domains of education, employment, criminal activity, mental health, substance abuse, and use of public services.

And so a kind of secondary goal of the study was, it’s been shown in a lot of research that socioemotional skills are malleable, they’re something that can be improved throughout child development, and there are very effective programs that can do that. So we set out to see if we could assess, if we could actually gauge these relationships at a very young age, which is why we looked at kindergarten age predicting these long-term outcomes."

The researchers were surprised to find these socioemotional skills were uniquely predictive of the long-term outcomes. Outcomes that were measured in adolescence and outcomes that were measured in mid-adulthood that were based on court records for some criminal activities.

But they were a unique prediction, in the sense that researchers controlled 4 other key aspects of the child, early academic ability at age 5, characteristics of their home environment, such as socioeconomic status, their behavior as rated by mothers and teachers, that allowed researchers to make a unique prediction from these early socioemotional skills. According to Jones, "We found significant associations in all those domains, crime, education, employment, substance use, mental health. For instance, children — for each point on the social competence scale, children were twice as likely to receive a college degree by age 25."

What intervention should be made in working with young children, that might make a difference in their lives later? Jones believes there’s a lot of hope in making a difference in children's future, because so much research is showing the value of these socioemotional skills. Research shows there are really effective evidence-based programs that can help improve children’s socioemotional skills.

"And by looking and being able to gauge these skills at this age, to able to see where they may be headed 20 years down the road, could really inform policy for planning intervention for these type of things, given that we know it’s something that is malleable, it’s something that is vital for their development, along with academic ability and academic instruction and parental investment." —Professor Damon Jones, Penn State University


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Etiquette and Body Odor

Most people are reluctant to ask others whether their own body odor stinks or not. And even if an individual was able to work up enough courage to ask such a question, they’d have a hard time knowing whether the answer was sincere. In an attempt to put people’s minds at ease, Konica Minolta Inc. recently unveiled what it claims is the world’s first device that measures and rates a person’s body odor. The gadget, dubbed Kunkun Body (kunkun is an onomatopoeia for sniffing in Japanese), is a pocket-size instrument co-developed with the Osaka Institute of Technology that rates a person’s body odor on a scale of 1 to 100 and sends the results to a smartphone that is connected wirelessly. “Scents are chemical substances but how people’s sense of smell works varies according to each individual,” says Daisuke Koda, one of the key researchers behind the instrument’s development. Koda says, “We thought it would be very useful if we could create some kind of system to measure the types and strength of scents that are close to how humans smell.” Users simply launch an app on their smartphone, place the device near the area where they want to measure their body odor (ex.— their armpits or feet) and, about 20 seconds later, the results appear on their smartphone.“Body odor is one of the hardest things to point out to another person but because many people can’t smell their own odor, they have this vague sense of anxiety,” Koda says. “Now, however, they can feel assured by being able to ‘see’ their own scent.” - Japan Times Online


Not creating a stink at the office — More Japanese companies are taking the issue of unpleasant odors in the workplace seriously


From sexual harassment and power harassment to maternity harassment and alcohol harassment, unjustifiable conduct in the workplace takes many forms. In recent years, however, a new issue has begun receiving media attention: “smell harassment.” The “smell” referred to in the above phrase could be anything from bad breath and body odor to perfume and fabric softener. Regardless of whether a person is conscious of their odor or not, some consider it to be harassment if others are bothered by the smell. However, unlike other types of harassment, smell harassment — often abbreviated as sumehara — is a very personal and sensitive issue, making it difficult for others to speak up.

It’s worth noting at this point that some men and women suffer from a medical condition called axillary osmidrosis (commonly called wakiga in Japanese), a hereditary disorder caused by the secretion of the apocrine gland that causes body odor. Experts say that an estimated 10-15 percent of the Japanese population have this condition, adding that, in most cases, it can be treated through surgery.m

For the majority of the population, however, body odor is a consequence of general sweating. Both men and women sweat, but men are more likely to emit a stronger body odor. And more often than not, the person responsible for the odor is likely to be completely oblivious to the smell they are emitting because of olfactory fatigue, a condition in which individuals cannot distinguish a certain smell after being exposed to it for a period of time.

With more women in the workplace as well as commercials frequently using the term “kareishū,” the Japanese equivalent of “old-person smell,” men are increasingly becoming conscious of their smell. Drugstores typically feature rows of men’s products, from roll-on and spray-type deodorants to body-wipe sheets, scalp-care shampoo and so on. Deodorizing suits and socks are now available at menswear chainstore Yofuku-no-Aoyama, while Konica Minolta Inc. launched a gadget that measures body odor called Kunkun Body in mid-July.

“Body odor is not just a personal issue, because it affects those around you,” says Keisuke Oku, chief of the Public Relations Division at major cosmetics manufacturer Mandom Corp. “It could not only make others not want to work with you, but also negatively impact what people think of you.” In a survey compiled by Mandom in May, 63.1 percent of the 1,028 people who responded in Tokyo and Osaka ranked body odor as the No. 1 thing that bothers them during the government’s Cool Biz energy saving campaign, which calls on companies to set their air conditioners at 28 degrees Celsius. More specifically, respondents highlighted body odor and bad breath as the top two grooming categories they wished others would pay closer attention to.

Meanwhile, respondents who have come across the words “smell harassment” appear to have doubled from 20.1 percent in 2014 to 45.8 percent in May. “People’s awareness of body odor and smell is increasing,” Oku says. “It is not like sweat, which is mainly uncomfortable for yourself. Body odor will cause discomfort to others, too.” — Japan Times Online

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Etiquette, Gents and Flowers

A girl under five feet five might prefer a small arrangement to be worn on her back décolletage, rather than one to be crushed at the waist or on the shoulder during dancing or a tiny nosegay to pin to her gloves or bag. Tall girls can stand the big impressive corsages men love to buy, but little girls often abhor them. 


Men... In the sending of flowers, confused, they buy something expensive and therefore, they believe, impressive, but it may be quite unsuitable to the occasion or to the costume the girl is wearing. A corsage of purple orchids looks foolish at a football game, whereas a shaggy chrysanthemum, a bunch of violets, or orange calendula, or even a charmingly arranged spray of bittersweet would be in tune with her sport coat, lap rug, and stadium boots. A woman is much more impressed when her escort makes an effort to find out what kind of flowers she would prefer to wear than if he just leaves it up to the florist. 

If a man can't determine for himself whether a girl is the orchid or gardenia type and can't bring himself to ask her what she plans to wear, he is safe in sending white flowers — lilies of the valley, gardenias, chrysanthemums (for daytime wear), rosebuds (but they are perishable for an evening of dancing), carnations in a tight little round bouquet. But he should be careful not to have so many flowers in the corsage that a delicate gown will be pulled out of place by the weight of it. And for a short girl, never, under any circumstances, should a corsage of more than one or two orchids be sent. A girl with taste and a taste for orchids would prefer one little green, yellow, or white spray orchid to half a dozen ostentatious purple ones. But, orchids or cornflowers, corsages should be free of ribbon trimming, and rose corsages should not have any greenery but their own as background. 

Flowers are worn various ways with evening clothes. (If they are to be worn on the shoulder for dancing, the right shoulder keeps them fresh longer. ) A girl with braids or a chignon might prefer a red or pink camellia or a single gardenia for her hair rather than a corsage. A girl under five feet five might prefer a small arrangement to be worn on her back décolletage, rather than one to be crushed at the waist or on the shoulder during dancing or a tiny nosegay to pin to her gloves or bag. Tall girls can stand the big impressive corsages men love to buy, but little girls often abhor them. 

Flowers should be arranged in corsages so that they will be worn the way they grow, with the heads up. They should be sent with several florist's pins so they can be anchored firmly in place. Bouquets of flowers should always be sent with some thought of where and how they will be arranged. Several dozen towering dahlias, chrysanthemums, or gladiolus, sans container, will not always be welcome in a hotel room, in the compartment of a train, or aboard ship, in anything less than a suite. A potted plant is impractical for a transient. 

Flowers corsages or arm bouquets sent to trains and planes are usually just a burden to the recipient. It is a very nice thing, however, to send flowers for decoration to a girl who is giving a party. I once knew a charming gentleman with imagination enough to do that. He filled my apartment with flowers the afternoon I was giving a large cocktail party and sent along his Filipino butler, too, to help out. 

A man who is laying siege to a girl's heart does well not to systematize his flower-sending. I knew one man who could be counted on to send two dozen long-stemmed red roses every Saturday, rain or shine. And another who might send a gay, red geranium in a simple clay pot or turn up with a single gardenia in a twist of green waxed paper or a new recording or some fresh catnip for the kitten one never knew. Any woman could tell in a minute which was the more interesting man. — The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky, 1953


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Etiquette at the Door


A Question of Etiquette: Do you hold the door for others?
"Everyday acts of etiquette, such as holding doors for other people, reflect the internal simulation of acts of social cooperation."?

American researchers stake out a door and find it far from an open and shut case

Whether one person holds a door open for another is not simply a question of etiquette, says a study by Joseph P Santamaria and David A Rosenbaum of Pennsylvania State University. No, they say. Nothing simple about it.

Santamaria and Rosenbaum worked to pursue the answer through a tangle of belief, logic, probability, perception and calculation. Their study, Etiquette and Effort: Holding Doors for Others, was published in 2011 in the journal Psychological Science. It is, one way or another, a gripping read.

Santamaria and Rosenbaum selected a door that gets heavy use by people entering or exiting a building. “We recorded the behaviour of 148 individuals approaching and passing through the door. We determined whether the first person held the door for the follower or followers, how far the follower or followers were from the door, how long it took for the follower or followers to reach the doorway, and how many followers (one or two) followed the first person at the door.”

“We found,” they reveal, “that the closer the follower or followers were to the door, the more likely people were to hold the door open.” The researchers devised the experiment to test their new hypothesis — their highly educated guess — as to what happens in the mind of a person faced with a decision to either hold the door open for the next person, or not hold the door open.

“Specifically, we hypothesised that decisions about whether to hold a door open depend on calculations of the odds that one person’s holding the door would require less effort than would each individual’s opening the door on his or her own.”

Santamaria and Rosenbaum’s small, specific door-holding hypothesis is a toy version of their big, general hypothesis: “We hypothesised that everyday acts of etiquette, such as holding doors for other people, reflect the internal simulation of acts of social cooperation.” Their theory aims for a deep level of understanding: “According to [our] view, etiquette, or the form of physically expressed etiquette considered here, is not just a symbol for respect; it is also a means of reducing physical effort for the group.”

In the final paragraph, the study points out one of its obvious limitations: “Some forms of etiquette do not concern physical effort (eg napkin folding).”

The Santamaria/Rosenbaum study follows distantly in the tradition of John Trinkaus. Professor Trinkaus published nearly 100 academic studies about things that annoyed him. His paper, called Exiting a Building: An Informal Look, published in 1990, reported the behaviour of 819 people leaving a New York City building that had two side-by-side doors, one held in the open position, the other closed. Trinkaus observed that approximately 70% of those people chose to exit through the open door.

Marc Abrahams is editor of the Annals of ImprobableResearch and organiser of the Ig Nobel prizes - From May 2015, TheGuardian.com

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Victorian School Etiquette

“Good manners are the shadows of virtues, if not virtues themselves.”


School-Room Etiquette

If teachers realized the inestimable amount of good they might accomplish by giving a little time and thought to the manners of their pupils, surely they would willingly give it. Those of their pupils who have no proper training at home would thus gain a knowledge which, in after life, would prove a blessing. And such a course acted upon by the teacher would be of great assistance to the parents of those who are well trained at home; for a large portion of a child’s time is spent in school, and under conditions that require such training.

Teachers must treat their scholars politely if they expect polite treatment from them.

Every teacher should see that no pupil is allowed to treat those of a lower station in life with disrespect.

It is a common occurrence for a teacher to speak with seeming disrespect of a pupil’s parents, blaming them for the pupil’s lack of interest in school, truancy, etc. Such a course is highly reprehensible in the teacher, and gains the pupil’s ill-will. It is better to assume that the parents would be displeased with anything wrong in the pupil, and to appeal to the pupil for his mother’s or father’s sake.

A teacher should never allow herself or himself to be addressed by pupils as “Teacher,” but as Miss or Mr. Smith.

If pupils would take pains to bid a teacher “good-morning” and “good-night,” they would appear well in so doing, and easily give pleasure to another.

The entire atmosphere of a school-room is dependent upon trifles. Where a teacher, by her own actions and in accordance with her requirements, insures kindness and politeness from all to all, she may feel almost sure of the success of her school.

Young misses ought to be addressed by the teacher as “Miss Julia,” “Miss Annie.” Young boys (too young to be addressed as Mr.) should be addressed as “Master Brown,” “Master Jones,” etc.

Teachers should use great discretion in reproving any unintentional rudeness, especially on the part of those ignorant from lack of home training. If such were reproved gently and privately, it would be more efficacious and just. No one should be allowed to appear to disadvantage from ignorance.

Selfishness, untruthfulness, slang, rowdyism, egotism, or any show of superiority should be corrected in the school-room.

Young teachers hardly realize with what fear and dread mothers intrust to them their carefully reared children, especially young ones.


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia