Engaging with the Japanese Culture and Language
(Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.)
"Your saving grace though is always going to be your attitude. Foreigners can pick up on that, just like any other country, any other human. So if you go in—and I would recommend this style to anybody who's learning Japanese—I would go in and use the language and try as hard as you can when it comes to making the mistakes and using the expressions you've never heard and getting in the meanings that you've never done before. So just screw up, and it's fine. But if you have a good attitude about it, you say, 'I'm just here to learn and do my best and help out for this deal, or this organization, or this alliance,' whatever it is that you happen to be doing, it goes a long way. People see that, and they're like, 'Okay, well, he's just a rookie; I've been there.' That's exactly what you think of. Like, 'I've been there. I remember when I was a basic Japanese speaker and I couldn't say how to get to the bathroom. He's just trying to do that. He's just trying to do right by him and his education; pick him up, he's fine.' So, that's your safety net, your attitude. If you just get pissed off and frustrated, because you will be, and if you let it show, it's never going to work. That's why a lot of people don't like diplomacy and intercultural relations, because it's just so hard to get through. It's hard to train to."
A service member discusses engaging with the culture and language in Japan.