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What would you do in the following situations?

12 Comments

Think you’re clever, eh? You’re not alone, it’s a common failing. Well, what would you do, asks Spa! (Nov 24), in the following situation? You’re a lower-middle-ranking company executive and your boss, whether out of malice or ignorance or simply for want of a better idea, hands you a massive assignment and an impossible deadline. There are four choices. 1: You say, “Yes boss! Whatever you say, boss!” - and walk away muttering to yourself, “My God, what have I done!” 2: You temporize: “Er… that’s difficult… that’s really difficult” – and see how he takes it; maybe he’ll take pity on you and extend the deadline? 3: You accept the assignment and then, when the boss isn’t looking, fob it off on some unlucky subordinate who is as afraid of you as you are of the boss. 4: You say, “I can’t possibly do it all, but I’ll do what I can.”

Spa!’s package consists of several hypothetical conundrums of the sort we all face daily, at work and socially, more often than not doing exactly the wrong thing, not because we’re stupid – on the contrary, we’re clever! – but because real life has its tensions that warp the judgment. Anyone coolly assessing the situation from outside would immediately recognize 2 as the worst option – you’re giving up before you’ve even tried. Even 3 is better than that. And yet 2 is probably what a boss hears most, particularly from younger and less experienced staff. As for 1, the only justification for going that route is insecurity bordering on neurosis. No, 4 is best, says one four analysts the magazine enlists, columnist Takeo Maekawa – you’re showing in just a few words the vision that grasps the scope of the work, the courage to confront the boss, and the fact that you take your work seriously.

Or how about this: you’re meeting a client to clinch a sale, waiting for a subordinate with the knowledge to address some last-minute difficulties that have come up. But where is the subordinate? He’s late, damn him! What do you do?

Again, four choices. 1: You apologize profusely and wait for the subordinate to show, relying on your small talk skills to fill the awkward silence. 2: You say, “I’ll give him hell, don’t worry; in the meantime, please pardon us.” 3: You make excuses for him: “He’s an exemplary employee, apart from his unfortunate tendency to neglect the time.” 4: You say, “The responsibility’s mine,” and proceed with the matter at hand, dispensing with the subordinate and his expert knowledge.

No. 4 is best, says Maekawa. See it from the client’s viewpoint, he counsels. The client isn’t interested in you, or your subordinate, or the relationship between you; he wants to close the deal; that’s what he came for. Yes – but what if the subordinate’s expertise really is essential?

From work to love. Are there two kinds of cleverness involved, or is he who is clever in one arena necessarily clever in the other? Spa! (whose readership is predominantly male, incidentally – hence the masculine pronouns) doesn’t say, but the question naturally arises. Imagine this: you’re at a restaurant with your date and she finds a bug in her food. What do you do? 1: Take her plate and give her yours, letting it go at that. 2: Call the waiter and demand a replacement. 3: Insist that the waiter bring the manager over. 4: Apologize to your date for having chosen this restaurant in the first place.

Choice 3 is appealing if you want to show yourself to your date as a man who takes charge and won’t put up with any nonsense, but causing a scene in a restaurant spoils a happy occasion and leaves everyone feeling foolish. No. 1 fails equally for the opposite reason – you come across looking nice but feckless. How about, suggests Takako Kawasaki, who runs a consultancy for working women, 2 plus 4 – a quiet request to the waiter for a replacement and an apology to the lady: “I should have known better.” Or something.

One more: you and your date have been dining and drinking and having a fine time, each moment a little more intimate than the last. You leave the restaurant or club or bar, a love hotel the obvious destination – but you arrive at one and all of a sudden she has second thoughts: “I’d really better go home.” Well, you can sputter this and grumble that, but this is one of those situations in which there simply are no good options and all the cleverness in the world won’t help you. Go home, sleep it off and hope for better luck next time.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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What would you do in the following situations?

Answer my own questions to show how smart I am?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If I had a boss that was so stupid, I would look for a new job with a much less stupid boss.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I can't agree with the advice regarding the date scenario bug... "2 plus 4 – a quiet request to the waiter for a replacement and an apology to the lady: 'I should have known better.'”

I would call the waiter, ask him to draw the Chef's attention to the bug (or any flaw in the food for that matter). As Kawasaki suggests, it's better to dial down a demand to a quiet request, though I'd up that to graciously insist on a replacement dish. To the date I would say, "You deserve their best."

As the Chef's error is not the escort's fault and there is no need for him to take responsibility or make apology for it. Accidents like that can happen. It's up to the restaurant/Chef to appease the customer--perhaps by not charging for the meal as well as sending out a fresh dish--if they'd like repeat business.

The date will see the escort's self-control, good manners, and ability to take-charge without ruining a pleasant evening. All winning points.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What this article illustrates for me thank GOD(even tho they don't exist!) I don't work for a J-company.

That said I am CONSTANTLY having to reply & deal with my overseas contacts with much less information than I should pretty all the time because people here are some slow & inefficient & then they bitch when I cant always cover for their MISTAKES & slow responses.

I try to remain nice about it but I am firm, but it DOES drive me nuts at times, Japan is its own worst enemy most of the time, but I HAVE to soldier on & get things done despite having one of my hands tied behind my back so to speak lots of times

3 ( +5 / -2 )

GW: Japan is its own worst enemy most of the time

Institutions and groups in Japan might be covered by GW's generalization. However, in my experience things in Japan tend to work and work a bit seamlessly albeit often in very complicated and roundabout ways.

The outstanding successes (eg. Softbank in the old days, Uniqlo, some others) tend to be exceptions, often driven by key personalities who have necessary flexibility and lack of constraints to get things that need to be done, done.

I had an experience for 10 years to have a desk in the middle of a large private high school shokuinshitsu (teachers' room of about 100) in Yokohama for 10 years. Zoo-like, I could witness all types and found out very quickly that there were just as many clever, hardworking, lazy-as, whinger, incompetent, bully, screw-loose, happy, selfish,attractive, honest, manic-depressed, repulsive, supportive, kind, dishonest, empathetic, brown-nosing, stand-offish, reserved, uncomplaining, initiator and just-get-on-with-it types as anywhere else I had been. Often these were in combination. The ones who had respect were the ones who would get respect in any case. The ones who got the extra jobs usually depended on the job - simple, mundane were the usual suspects; jobs requiring acumen were done - usually not in the first instance - by the capable ones, who were known as capable. Eventually I worked out the ones to trust, stay away from, etc., just as most of us do. Then eventually I fell in with a group who treated me as one with whom we all had something in common, and I am sure I was not a token gaijin. It took 6 years. Where I am now, similarly it has taken 6-7 years.

In groups, the sets of options are often different from the options in the the article's scenarios. Also, would those sets of 4 options each be the only ones available? - Probably not. That being said, I do not think that the article should be limited in its scope to Japanese work or other social groups or socialising.

Further, if you are in the group it is one thing, but being outside the group is something else. And also, the question is 'what would you do'? Well, there's the rub - I am not you.

But to think in terms of 'Japan' and non-'Japan', well it is hardly as simple as that either.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The first question especially has quite a narrow set of options. When I've actually been in broadly similar situations, the solutions were 'this is the scope of what I can do in the time available, let's discuss who can help with the rest' or 'extend the deadline' (expressed in much gentler, but clear terms).

philly1: I don't think you can blame the chef so easily. Unless you're in some kind of establishment that keeps the food covered in between the kitchen and your table, a bug can come in at any time. Hell, I was just at a place a few days where there was an extremely small spider jumping around on our table. Thankfully, it didn't end up in the food, but if it did, it wouldn't have been the chef's fault.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Suddenly come down with a bad cold meaning I have to go home for the next few days lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All good suggests except the last. Never ever invite a lady to bed down with you until you have established report. When the lady thinks it is her idea there should be no problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never ever invite a lady to bed down with you until you have established report.

I believe the word you wanted to use was rapport. ra-POUR

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't think you can blame the chef so easily. Unless you're in some kind of establishment that keeps the food covered in between the kitchen and your table, a bug can come in at any time. Hell, I was just at a place a few days where there was an extremely small spider jumping around on our table. Thankfully, it didn't end up in the food, but if it did, it wouldn't have been the chef's fault.

DiscoJ, I didn't suggest that the Chef should be blamed. I said that the waiter should draw his attention to it the problem. The waiter cannot address the situation as he/she has no authority to do so.

Taking responsibility for the quality of the food doesn't mean assigning blame. It's a fine rhetorical line, but usually people do not intentionally damage the food. They need repeat business. I also said that accidents do occur. Bottom line, the Chef should have visually inspected the food. Maybe spiders do jump on top afterwards (thankfully yours didn't.) Still, whatever the case, only the Chef or House Manager can do what is necessary to rectify the problem.

It hasn't happen often; however, I have noticed a rock in a salad, lipstick remains on a wine glass, and a few past-prime leaves in a salad. In each case the order was replaced and I was not charged for the item. The waiter and manager apologized profusely for the mishap. In a few other cases the food was overdone or cold or unsatisfactory in other ways and had to be sent back. Always, the establishment has happily and graciously taken responsibility.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These problems are not at all unique to Japan. You will run into them in them in pretty much any country with businesses and restaurants. The "correct" responses seem quite appropriate.

One thing with the restaurant scenario, though. In many restaurants, the server will simply take the plate back, remove the offending item, maybe move a couple things around so it looks slightly different, and bring the same plate back.

When I have to send back an order due to a problem, I ask for something else that's completely different.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If I had a boss that was so stupid, I would look for a new job with a much less stupid boss.

I actually did just that.

because people here are some slow & inefficient & then they bitch when I cant always cover for their MISTAKES & slow responses.

I sooooooo agree with this! GW, as usual, spot on. One of the main reasons I left my last job. And Im MUCH happier now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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