Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reading the Air - By Takeshi Matsuki

This is a series of articles being provided by Matsuki san who heads TCS's HR division in Japan. In this interesting article he talks about "Reading the air" which is one of the key components of Emotional Quotient (EQ) - a must have quality for all professionals!



“Reading the Air”

There are many special words used in Japanese business scene. This first issue will discuss about what this abstract expression “Reading the Air” expresses.


In this expression “Reading the Air,” the “air” doesn’t exactly mean the air we breathe, but signifies the atmosphere or circumstances. Here, reading means feeling or sensing. Therefore, “Reading the Air” means sensing what is going on at the moment in the situation or circumstance and doing what is expected to be done.


For example, even though the Section-Chief is in trouble and desperate for a solution, you still go to ask him about something that is not related to the issue at all.



Look at the scenario below:

Mr. Suzuki is walking up to his Section-Chief, Mr. Takahashi, who just got his project report turned down by his boss. The boss told Mr. Takahashi to redo his project report, and hand it in within an hour.


Mr. Suzuki says, “Section-Chief, should we have Chinese cuisine or the usual restaurant for Mr. Yamamoto’s welcoming party tonight?”


[Oh, Christ! He is not helpful at all (Mr. Takahashi is thinking)]
“I am okay with anything…; Can you leave me alone for a while? My hands are tied-up right now”


With this, Mr. Suzuki let down Mr. Takahashi’s expectation. He is not making the right move in the current situation. This is true not only in a business scenario. It often happens in the conversation between friends or family. It happens in social settings too. We tend to stay away from people who can’t “Read the Air”. So to speak, those are the kind of people who are selfish, and don’t understand how others feel when they are in a tough situation. Commonly, those people are hard to be around.


The Japanese value “wa”, meaning harmony. “Wa” means people getting along peacefully and harmoniously, or even that things are staying as they are without hustle or chaos. The Japanese feel that “wa” symbolizes each of us.


There is a famous saying by Shoutokutaishi who was a greatly respected governor:
“Wa o motte, toutoshi to nasu” It means “We don’t tolerate the ones who disturb the community which stands with harmony.”


“Reading the Air” might sound odd, but it is a common sense which any competent businessman should have.

※ 1 「テンパッている」
※ 2 「ダメだし」
※ 3 「聖徳太子」

1 comment:

Shikha Sharma said...

Hijyou ni yokatta desu!
Kono joho wa shorai ni mo yakunitachiru to omoimasu.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu Takeshi san!!