Adapting to a New Work Culture: A Shared Experience
I was born in the United States and grew up in a fairly multicultural New York suburb. My university years were spent in the Northeast. Three years after graduation, I decided to embark on a new, life-changing journey living in Tokyo, Japan.
My first few years in Tokyo were spent working full-time while studying at a Japanese language school. After this initial stage, I transitioned into a role as an IT project manager for a boutique IT services firm. Our company was very international; however, many of our clients approached business with a Japanese mindset. While working, I was still taking language lessons with a focus on communication in business situations.
These studies—coupled with my interactions with clients—taught me very key nuances within a culture that places importance on hierarchy and harmony.
Coping with New Environments
During my early observations, I found that those new to life in Japan belonged to two major groups:
- One group was pleasantly intrigued by how different day-to-day life was compared to their home countries.
- The other group often experienced frustration, isolation and confusion.
Part of the challenge is the willingness to leave behind some of what you understand as common sense to explore a "new common sense."
There are various reasons why daily life in any country may differ from what you're
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