[wpaudio url=”https://www.btbpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/The-_Busy-Myth_.mp3″ text=”The ‘Busy’ Myth”]
I think we have talked about this topic before, but it was a long time ago, and I read an article yesterday that made me think of it again.
Apparently, an Indonesian nurse tweeted that she was surprised to find that although Japanese people are never late, they never seem to manage to finish anything on time. In particular, she was talking about the culture of working late. As you will see if you read the comments on the article, the opinion of most foreign people who live and work in Japan is that Japanese people don’t see a difference between working and just “being at work.” In other words, they think that Japanese people are not really very busy at all; they just spend a lot of time at their workplace.
I think there is a belief in Japan that if you finish too quickly, you cannot be working hard. There is also the pressure of not being allowed to leave before your boss. The result is that many people mess around all day being very inefficient, and then start working properly at around four or five. They leave the office around ten, and tell everyone “I’m so busy!”
I know from experience that what the Indonesian nurse said is very true of Japanese meetings. Although they usually start on time, no one can ever say when they will finish. I think there is a belief that if the meeting is over too quickly, it means that people haven’t thought carefully enough about the topics. As a result, millions of hours are wasted every day on pointless meetings that no one wants to go to in the first place.
So what do you think? Are Japanese people really busy? Or is there just an expectation that everyone has to pretend to be busy so that others will think they are a hard worker?
By the way, Tomo’s comment on the last entry made me think about another big difference between the West and Japan. Tomo’s clinic clearly doesn’t have enough staff, and so she has to work late as a result. The difference is that if a boss said “We don’t have enough staff so you will have to work late” to someone in my country, the answer would be “The fact that you don’t have enough staff is your problem, not mine. I’m going home!” I think that Japanese companies and managers get away with murder (←check this phrase if you don’t know it) because Japanese workers feel so much responsibility to their employers. Of course, this is a good thing in many ways, but it means that workers have to suffer because managers can’t / don’t want to find extra staff.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the topic of being “busy.”
このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか？」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ！
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