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Conversational Interruptions in Japan


(Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.)

"From an American point of view, I could see how filling the silence is perhaps comforting. But in the same way, I wouldn't interrupt. I'd be leery of interrupting or looking like you're interrupting [someone], especially a senior, but [really] anybody, your counterpart. Personally speaking, and from a Japanese perspective, I'd let someone speak through what they're trying to get across before chiming in. But, in that same sense, you'll notice that even though they aren't interjecting, Japanese listeners specifically will, for instance, if somebody's speaking, they'll go, just as a verbal confirmation, 'Mmhmm, mmhmm,' things like that that are meant to show, 'Hey, I am an active listener.'"

A cultural subject matter expert discusses conversational interruptions in Japan.