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Japanese manners debate: Is it OK to tell your coworkers 'I’ve found a new job?'

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24
Image: Pakutaso

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

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- 30 things workers in Japan often find themselves thinking in their first six months on the job

-- Is this common Japanese phrase for “goodbye” the reason for Japan’s crazy overtime hours?

-- Five ways to piss off your older Japanese coworkers at a new job

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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When I worked at FedEx Ground in management if anyone came to the terminal manager and gave him two weeks notice, your final check was immediately cut and you were escorted out the door by security.


Some of the big corporations act like psychopaths in regard to their employees. I've seen them bleed people dry, exhaust every ounce of creativity, talent and incentive - and then kick them out, or force them to resign. It's not surprising people look elsewhere or work for themselves.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

When I worked at FedEx Ground in management if anyone came to the terminal manager and gave him two weeks notice, your final check was immediately cut and you were escorted out the door by security.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

There are ways to do this & ways not to, each time a person does this there WILL be little or LARGE reasons for doing so, even if you would REALLY like to rub it in its best NOT to, it can be done nicely & even then MOST WILL know the real reasons why, best to take the higher ground.

I did this after my first job in a VERY international company, absolutely LOVED the concept of the company, still do actually now about 33yrs later BUT I could see management doing a LOT wrong & just had to get out, sadly that company ceased to exist about 5-8yrs after I left back in Cda & it WAS due to gross mismanagement sadly

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why in any sane world is it wrong for a person to seek to better them selves and their position by seeking a better paid job or a promotion by moving company? And in what way is it a reflection on the existing employer, except where they react badly but that is their failing and demonstrates why their staff might wish to leave.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There's nothing wrong with saying 'I've found a better job.' Obviously, some people will take offence - generally management - but most other employees would be envious because that's human nature. Let's not condemn the person who wants a better job and life, just because of some unfathomable social norm (actually abnormality would be a better word). If you have to leave a stinking work environment, do it, and let it be known so that any and all of your former co-workers can believe they're capable of doing the same thing. That's what makes companies fail. And frankly, some companies, like one I worked for, absolutely deserve to fail.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some of the big corporations act like psychopaths in regard to their employees. I've seen them bleed people dry, exhaust every ounce of creativity, talent and incentive - and then kick them out, or force them to resign. It's not surprising people look elsewhere or work for themselves.

The unofficial motto at Figgie International was "hire 'em, tire 'em and fire 'em). Then there was "Fedex Ground Beef". At another place I worked the "Safety Director" of all people got in my face one day for not wanting to work more than ten hours a day. I simply told him that beyond ten work hours a day, adding in commute time to and from work I have to either give up eating a healthy meal, my daily exercise or sleep. I told this, cough, cough, "Safety Director" they couldn't pay me enough to sacrifice my health. No job is worth that but too many people get in debt, have child support and alimony to pay and end up on that hampster wheel. Employers love it when their employees are in debt up to their ears. They'll do anything for more money. I have always lived debt free with at least a couple months income in the bank so no employer could hold me hostage like that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For the most part, I never told co-workers if I was going to another job . . . during my many years working . . . .  However, if I was moving to a new location several thousand miles away to pursue new opportunity, then I told the boss only . . . however, someone found out, and put it on a map of the world (where other "alumni" were also indicated with a small pin) . . . additionally, if I was working for a small firm (and my family needed better circumstances . . . then I needed to ask my boss for permission to see if it was acceptable to him that I be able to move on) . . . . in most all cases only the boss/ employer was told, and when possible permission was asked based on the state of affairs at present office . . . .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The best feeling thing is when you not only quit and take another job, but you take a few friends with you ^_^

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As a business owner who has been sued by a former employee whom I had to fire because he was stealing from the company, spreading false information with clients, and even sexually harassing several women (among about 50 other complaints I had against him which were about his work performance and personal hygiene etc.), I would be quite happy to have an employee just simply say they found another job and were leaving. If this boss is complaining about the choice of wording, then they've never had to deal with a real disgruntled employee before. Sounds young, and naive to me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I do not think it is proper to announce to your co-workers that you are leaving for a better job. What message does that send to the company and it's employees? It is better for that employee's manager to announce the departure unless that person was terminated and have a going away party in some izakaya.

Office culture is of course different all over the world but any company's biggest asset is not the product but the people who support the product and wake up each morning excited to go to work and like their management IMHO.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

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