Chit Chat

When on Monday morning I normally ask my colleagues what did you do for the weekend I always feel I am making a cultural faux pas: chatting to my colleagues during company time. Having been in Japan just six months I am still a novice to the Japanese culture.
The Japanese perception of idleness fascinates me. It is apparent that appearing industrious is as, if not more important, than actually being so.
Only an idiot could fail to utilise his time to the best advantage and, I must add, that I far from deserve this title.
However, during company time many Japanese companies expect quietness and interaction between colleagues only if necessitated by the nature of one’s work. Social chit-chat implies either a lack of work or, more audaciously, a slack attitude.
I always thought that social interaction promoted happiness; happy workers equal motivated workers.
However, the Japanese perception of motivation differs greatly from that of the Europeans. Whereas the Europeans require one million reasons for doing something, the Japanese “just do it.”
The sports centre is a prime example. Unlike British aerobics classes in which women giggle their way through routines, the Japanese concentrate solely on the moves of the instructor. In the gym, members lift weights at ridiculous speeds sparing little, if any, thought to safety. The inappropriateness of conversation and possible enjoyment is discouraged through stony silence. Let’s be honest, exercise is tough at the best of times. To have to view it as yet another chore is enough to make one give up altogether (I have!).
I thought that humanity had evolved to the extent that the majority of us are able to perform a variety of tasks at the same time, and commit an equal quality of time to each. What a shame that, in a country so advanced, humanitarianism lags so far behind.

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