Corporate culture is slowly taking over our lives. As times change, more than half of us will have a corporate job. However, an important part of any such job is a good number of social skills. You might be very good at what you do but if you lack the essential skills of communication and building interpersonal relationships, you will fall out of favour very quickly. If you want to build yourself favourably in this direction, reading the room is a skill that you might want to acquire. Straight out of the Japanese playbook, this is something that has gained a huge amount of favour in Japan.
In fact, it is one of those skills that you require if you want to become a key part of Japanese society. So essentially, what does this new culture of reading the room entail and how has it gained popularity?
READING THE ROOM – A SKILL IN JAPAN
Rochelle Kopp, who runs cross-cultural training firm Japan Intercultural Consulting, says that while all nations have varying degrees of indirect communication, in Japan the phenomenon is more prominent in society. “In other words, in Japan, it is especially important – and you can expect more problems if you are unable to do it. Put another way, it’s an important societal expectation,” she says.
If someone looks at your watch, they aren’t necessarily complimenting you on the quality of your accessory. What they might mean is that the time is passing by and they have other work to do at this time. It is important to learn the indirect cues and signals of communication in order to perfectly decode what is being said.
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This helps in maintaining a degree of workplace professionalism. So what exactly do you need to do in order to be a good reader of rooms? First, gain a good knowledge of the workplace. You need to know the culture of the people you are working so that you know what their non-verbal cues mean. Especially, if you are a foreigner, this exercise gains even more relevance and importance.
Secondly, learn to read micro-expressions. People might not always express their dissatisfaction explicitly. For example, if you don’t know the history of conflict between two colleagues and they are talking in front of you, the skill of reading the uneasiness in the conversation is required. Then you can budge in and indulge them in different tasks and you become the saver of lives.
Thus, it is very obvious why this skill will become more prominent in the future.