Monday, August 22, 2011

Little Things That Make Japan Best: Politeness and the Telephone

Japan will teach you patience. In everyday life, Japan has great lessons for westerners who come from nations full of people with the "Me! Me! Me!" entitlement attitude.
Many people find Japan's pace frustrating. But I think the wise people will find Japan's pace in showing them (and helping them with) patience is actually much better for their physical and mental health.

Think about it: the Japanese live, on average, about 8 years longer than Americans do. Of course diet has much to do with it. But people here rarely scream and shout. This sort of "flying off the handle" that (especially) Americans are guilty of cannot be good for one's health. Getting mad over insignificant things is just a cause of stress and can only harm the person doing the stressing.

As everyone knows, stress is a killer of relationships and life!

Actually, on a recent trip to the USA, besides the regular stress that I think is just "in the air" at the USA these days, I watched some TV... I felt like I was being yelled at all the time. What a stressful experience. Not good for my health. But, just a part of today's American society... Not good for anyone's health, I'm sure. But America's don't realize it anymore. It's part and parcel of that society nowadays.

But I digress...

Japan is world famous for politeness but nowhere in Japan does the politeness reach the plateau of Mt. Everest like it does when talking to strangers - or on a telephone call (excepting for when you might be talking with a geisha - so how often does that happen?)

I have seen and heard, with my own eyes and ears, Japanese people who were in arguments (thought they never scream and shout like Americans do) with friends and family. Then, suddenly, the telephone rings.

They made their last comments along the lines of, "Be quiet now! There's the telephone!" Immediately, all tensions and frustrations disappeared in a flash! It's like they were different person! They picked up the phone and answered in a most calm and sweet tone.:

"Moshi moshi! (Hello!) This is the such-and-such residence."

It is like being on another planet. One moment ago, they were in the midst of a heated discussion. Now, it seems they just stepped out of a peaceful field of grass and flowers. As my friend Kevin Riley observed, "...It's like they have a split personality." Ah! Fresh air!

It doesn't matter if the caller is a friend or business associate or even some salesman, the Japanese are very polite in their tone and mannerisms. Like a person stepping out of an extremely hot outdoors into the blast of a cooling air-conditioned breeze of a department store open doors, the Japanese will show courtesy to even strangers who intrude upon themselves - if even in a telephone call.  

As my friend, Andy in Japan, has recently related - though using a much heavier example than mine above (concerning the police), just another reason Japan is a much better place to live than the USA.  

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