Japanese management gurus are big on the benefits of communication. A major reason Japanese companies have so many meetings, after-hours drinking sessions, and employee trips is that they’re ostensibly an opportunity for coworkers to share ideas and better understand each other’s perspectives and the challenges they’re currently facing.
There’s a major exception to this philosophy of communication being a good thing, though, and that’s when the message is that someone is leaving the company. Not only do Japanese managers often want to keep an employee departure under wraps for as long as they can, breaking the news to your coworkers yourself can be a complicated operation that can open you up to criticism, and it might not only be your bosses who think poorly of you for it.
For example, Japanese Twitter user @TareObjects recently recounted an incident that happened at a former workplace. Like a lot of Japanese offices, the company had a daily morning greeting, where managers would inform the staff of any important news for the day. It was during one of these morning greetings that @TareObjects spoke up and told everyone “I’ve found a new job. Thank you for everything while I was here.”
However, after the morning greeting was over the manager spoke to @TareObjects and sternly said, “It puts us in a difficult position to have you say that” and explained that the higher-ups insisted that he explain the situation as him “quitting” instead.
Trying to forcefully frame things in that manner rubbed him the wrong way, and many other Twitter users chimed in to say that it was proof that getting out of that workplace was the right decision, leaving comments like:
“Why should you have to feel bad about finding a new job?”
“Good on you for telling it like it is!”
“Awesome! I bet you threw your boss for a loop.”
“Who cares what the bosses want? You’re quitting, so you won’t have to deal with them anymore.”
“That company sounds like it’s going to collapse from the inside.”
However, there were more than a few commenters who also felt that “I’ve found a new job” wasn’t the best choice of words, since it generally carries the connotation that you’ve found a better place to work than the one the people you’re talking to are still part of. “I’m quitting” at least theoretically allows for the interpretation that you’ve decided to take some time off from working entirely, but “I’ve found a new job” could possibly be seen as gloating that you’ve landed a sweet position, or an insensitive assertion that the jobs your soon-to-be-former coworkers are stuck with stink.
To that end, multiple commenters mentioned the Japanese proverb “Tatsu tori wa ato wo nigosazu,” or “A bird does not dirty the nest before it flies away,” meaning that ending relationships cleanly and courteously is important.
Reactions also included:
“I think telling everyone during the morning greeting ‘I’ve found a new job’ shows a lack of common sense…unless your goal was just to embarrass your boss.”
“Saying ‘I’ve found a new job’ is the same as saying ‘I’ve found someplace better than this,’ so it’s better to be a little less emphatic about it. Sort of like how you’d say ‘I don’t think we’re meant for each other’ when you break up with someone instead of ‘I’m dumping you because you’re poor.’”
“I believe your boss was correct to say what he did…I’m sure there were difficult times at your job, but there were also memories you made together with your coworkers. Bringing that chapter to a close with tact is important to do not just as a professional, but as a human being, even if any of your coworkers are happy for you as you change jobs.”
“Leaving your job like that is fine if your next job is in another prefecture, country, or dimension. But you never know what’s going to happen down the road, and you and people from your old company may end up crossing paths as customers or clients, so an amicable goodbye is wiser than parting on a bad note.”
As the divided opinions show, not everyone thinks a frank “I’ve found a new job” (Tenshoku kimarimashita) is very polite, so if that’s the linguistic route you choose to go, you should probably be prepared for it to not sit well with some people. At the same time, “I’m quitting” (Yameru koto ni narimashita) is a phrase that might not feel right to you either, since just like the English “quit,” the Japanese word yameru can be interpreted as either simply “stop working” or “give up because it’s too hard for me.”
However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you need to tell an entire group of coworkers that you’re leaving, there is a way to split the difference: “Taishoku suru koto ni narimashita.” This translates to “I will be leaving this workplace,” deftly sidestepping the issue of whether or not you’ve got a better job already lined up, and also doesn’t require you to give the impression that you couldn’t handle the requirements of the position you’re leaving. It might not be the whole story, but it’ll keep anyone’s feelings from getting hurt, and you can save the specifics for your bosses who you want to know why you’re leaving, and also for your genuine work friends who’ll be happy to know you’re on to better things.
Source: Twitter/@TareObjects via Jin
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