Working under pressure

Of Japanese working in foreign companies in Japan, 51.7% say they are not confident, 55.1% are nervous and, surprisingly, 63.6% are frustrated when working in a global business environment in English. This data is from our sampling of 15 foreign companies operating in Japan and representing 7 different industries including retail, IT, consulting, finance, fashion, automotive and healthcare. 

Japanese individuals' and teams' top challenges:

  1. Collaborating with non-Japanese

  2. Influencing people

  3. Disagreeing with someones’ opinion, solution or plan


Foreign colleagues agree

Less than 9% of foreign executives surveyed mentioned English ability as a problem. In fact, these executives agreed with their Japanese colleagues. Foreign executives chose the following as the top challenges facing Japanese:

  1. Disagreeing with someones’ opinion, solution or plan

  2. Influencing people

  3. Providing feedback, opinions and comments, without being asked


We are all confident and comfortable when we know what to do and how to do it. When we don’t, we get the above results that diminish confidence, motivation and performance. 

Speaking under pressure

One huge obstacle is that Japanese work in their own language most of the day, only switching to English from time to time for meetings. This means Japanese have little chance to become fluent in the customs and rhythm of the language of their company. Quite often, this leads to the frustration, indicated in our research. That's because even though they may perform well at their day-to-day tasks, they don't truly feel successful at communicating their opinions, influencing outcomes or collaborating effectively with colleagues from other cultures. It doesn't have to be that way. It is not enough to be able to speak English. You also must be abe to comment, give feedback, influence, persuade and present in the manner expected in global business. Our method is to teach business skills in such a way that develops the ability to both think and communicate under pressure.


The Adaptive Thinking approach:

Our approach is to assess both foreign and Japanese team members with our proprietary assessment tool, Friction Point Analysis. Then we combine global and Japanese sensibilities to create a comprehensive picture of both parties’ situations, challenges and targeted outcomes. This data is used to develop a dual-solution supporting both sides so they can adapt to their particular situation.

Less about language, more about performance

One key to success is being able to switch or adapt to evolving situations. This is less about language and more about performance. By learning adaptive thinking, knowledge and skills designed particularly for Japanese, teams grow confident and much more engaged. They learn what to expect from each other and how to use techniques that clearly and concisely communicate opinions, feedback and strategies. 

Adaptive thinking skills develop assertive, flexible and more strategic thinkers, going beyond the TOEIC testing mindset. Typical solutions involve the following:

  • Developing a strong, confident presence

  • Influencing in English environments

  • Agreeing to disagree with others’ opinions and plans

  • Handling aggressive behavior and difficult questions

  • Developing trusting relationships with foreign managers, colleagues and customers

  • and more, depending on our Japan-specific, team performance assessment tool, Friction Point Analysis


Give us a call: A short call will quickly and easily determine if we can support you.



For Japanese & multicultural teams

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