The first time you meet someone is very important. What you say and the way you say it can create a lasting impression on the person you meet. Ultimately, the first interaction you have with someone should be a positive experience. Let’s discuss the
One thing I notice about Japanese, is that they use “textbook” English when meeting foreginers for the first time in Japan.
“Hello. My name is Nicholas. Nice to meet you”
Native English speakers rarely use this type of language. Only in very formal situations would we introduce ourselves like this. I recommend you avoid introducing yourself this way. When you introduce yourself use natural language and keep it friendly, rather than formal.
You can say “Hi. I’m Nick”.
Keep your introduction short, sweet and friendly. If you do it will probably lead to a great conversation.
You can also offer to shake hands, but you don’t have to if shaking hands makes you feel uncomfortable.
Keep The Experience Positive
Something many Japanese do when they first meet a English speaking foreigner is they are very quick to point out that they can’t speak English or how poor they think their ability is. “I can’t speak English very well.” is something many Japanese said to me when I lived in Japan. Saying something like this is very negative. A statement like this is a conversation killer, and makes it very difficult for the listener to reply.
Saying negative things about your own ability could insinuate that you don’t like English or don’t want to talk. It also suggests you want to remove responsibility
When you meet an English speaking foreigner you don’t need to comment about your own English speaking ability. Instead, enjoy the experience of meeting someone and establishing a friendship.
Ask Lots of Questions
If you are a little afraid of talking or don’t know what to say, ask lots of questions. Asking a foreigner questions will leave a lasting impression that you are interested in them. It will show them that you actually care.
You can really challenge yourself and ask many interesting questions, like:
How do you know (mutual friend’s name)?
What do you do?
What do you think of Japan?
Have you visited to Kyoto?
Avoid Making Assumptions
Many foreigners from different countries and cultures live in or visit Japan every day. It is important that you don’t make the assumption that they are from a certain country . When I lived Japan, I was often asked if I was American. I was asked this question many times, but I am actually Australian.
I recommend that you avoid asking foreigners where they are from for a number of reasons.
- Foreigners are asked this question all the time in Japan.
- It highlights that they are outsiders
- Many gaijin live in Japan permanently
- keep you introduction friendly
- don’t say anything negative about your speaking ability
- ask lots of questions