Shuffling feet

Posted by Kirsten on May 25, 2010

When working for Epson in Munich, the staff comprised 14 nationalities. That was fun because you would hear different languages the whole day. Of course I had lots of Japanese colleagues and quickly learned the notedly polite way of communicating and the concept of “maintaining face”.

But one thing bothered me the whole time: My Japanese colleagues would shuffle their feet, thereby causing an annoying sound on the floor. To me it seemed rude. After weeks of amazement why one would choose to scuff one’s feet, I asked a colleague I had befriended. She explained that some Japanese regard lifting their feet too far from the earth as a sign of arrogance. So it was a gesture of respect or humbleness! I liked that a lot and was fascinated of how cultures interpret behaviour so differently and of course the sound never annoyed me again…

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