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Communication Ability Overview

Communicative Ability Overview
Yasuda-san you are very close to native speaker level of oral fluency. (actually better than some native speakers I’ve listened to).  

Communicative Ability Overview
Iguchi-san, you’re good. You did a great job in the final presentation.  Particularly you answered the audience question with above average ability.
So I have to say that you are quite a bit better than you think you are. All the skills you demonstrated should serve you well in a foreign assignment.

Communicative Ability Overview
Matsumoto-san, you have a good challenging style and you did well in this workshop.
You are outgoing and contributed to all discussions. You do not hesitate to get involved in the discussions in English. Your style is good for most Western countries but you will need to modify it for some other countries, especially South West Asia. 

Communicative Ability Overview
Fukuoka-san, in the final project your English delivery was very smooth. Much better than on the first day in our conversation groups. I was very impressed with the change over only two days.  I think this was partially because you were able to prepare what you wanted to say. And you were not thinking in Japanese and then mentally translating into English before speaking. You delivered your information in reasonably fluent English. Congratulations! If you believe in yourself and prepare, you can do anything.  I want you to remember how it felt to speak that well. I suggest you also think about how you did it. And keep that in mind every time you have to speak in English. 

Communicative Ability Overview
Ota-san, you mention you have experience with daily conversation with foreigners but not in a business situation. So what’s the difference?  Some people say that there is no such thing as “business English”. Only business vocabulary. English is English.  If that is true then when you’re practicing daily communication with foreigners what you learn is good enough for business.  In this workshop you demonstrated the ability to contribute to just about any discussion, you asked clear questions and expressed your ideas reasonably well. Your English isn’t perfect, you make mistakes but nothing that would lead others to misunderstand your meaning. You are interesting to talk to. I like your style.

Yumi, you displayed excellent active listening skills in the final interview when you started to ask me some questions about my personal experience. You were also very diplomatic but in the end you apologized. Almost everyone likes to be asked their opinion- don`t hesitate to ask lots of questions. There is also no need to apologize. Good communication is about asking good questions and showing a genuine interest in the answers. You did a great job communicating in the final interview.

Katsuya, you displayed a great deal of social ability and confidence all through the workshop. You did not hesitate to initiate discussion and take a leading role and you . Continue to take this approach with Western counterparts and as we discussed work on your small talk and they will enjoy doing business with you even more.

Communicative Ability Overview
Yosiaki, you mentioned that you do not have much chance to speak English on business yet. You already have the right mindset for communicating with foreigners naturally so I hope you make opportunities to speak in English. I recommend that you check out a website called www.meetup.com which has numerous groups in Tokyo. There is also a restaurant bar in Omotesando called the Pink Cow. They have events just about 7 days a week. Each night they have different mixed groups of Japanese and foreigners who get together for various purposes. A link to this bar is: www.thepinkcow.com.

Communicative Ability Overview
Fumiaki, In the final presentation I believe you were able to re-connect with your experience as a Juku teacher and speaker with authority and in a louder voice. In the beginning I think your goal was to speak in English without making mistakes, but your real goal should be to exchange ideas with foreigners.  You have adequate vocabulary to communicate your ideas in English, I hope you find ways to practice..

Kosuke, for all practical business purposes you’re functionally fluent in English. Your English isn’t perfect. It doesn’t need to be. You need to understand that communication is a process and language is only one component of that process. Your weakness is with your approach to communication. Every communication is a negotiation. Effective communication, especially in business, must begin with the understanding that what you see as “reality” is not what the other person(s) see(s) as “reality”. So every communication, whatever the language, is first and foremost a process of sharing “realities” (yours and theirs) enough to understand each other. As in any formal negotiation, it is your (incorrect) assumptions, and the (unmatched) expectations that follow from your assumptions, that damage both parties chance of successfully coming to a reasonable conclusion. Your ability to check and confirm the meaning of other people’s words is fine. You do that well. What you are not doing is confirming your and their expectations, and where these differ, clarifying differences in the underlying assumptions both you and they are making.

Akihiro, your English is basically good enough for communicating with foreigners in business. Your aggressive style gives you a communication advantage with many Western cultures, but you need to recognize that some cultures’ communication styles need a softer touch (Thai and Malay, among others). You are concerned about your English vocabulary, yes you can improve this but I’m more concerned about your “cultural vocabulary”. You don’t know enough about your target culture and this presents a much higher risk of miscommunication than a limited English vocabulary. The result of a cultural misunderstanding will almost always produce much more serious impact on business than simple language mistakes.


Akihiro, I was very impressed with your expanded vision over the two days, You are correct- taking more care of other people’s feelings and hopes is a core skill for managing intercultural relationships in business. I suggest you adopt the theme “Respect Without Fear”.  (and never forget the “Respect” part, ok?)
Hiroki, I don’t know how talkative you are in Japanese. Or how shy you are by your nature. But your communication issues in English are not directly the result of your language ability. It appears that the main thing that’s holding you back is just your lack of experience. You don’t have much chance in your job to use English. Your low self-opinion also seems to be holding you back. However, you are really very much better than you think you are. So, basically, what you need the most are two things- 1) just practice and 2) just practice. Oh, yes, and change your opinion. You were selected for my table because you are among the top English speakers in that room. If you continue to undervalue your skills in English I guarantee you won’t get better very fast. You need to try another approach. Please move from “I can’t, I can’t” to “I think I can, I think I can”. 
Naoko, based on my observation of your performance in the two-day workshop, your English is certainly not perfect but you are good enough to communicate in international business. Basically you were the perfect student for this workshop. I think just about everything you need to move up to the next level of communication competency is covered in the program materials. Keep in mind that your difficulty with teleconferences is quite common among even more experienced Japanese business people. Generally, teleconferencing is the least effective medium for business communication. I have worked as a communication process consultant for more than twenty years and participated in hundreds of teleconferences. Japanese are not the only ones who need training in this –I’ve had to coach both sides (Japanese and foreigners) before the best results can be achieved. So keep learning but never expect to get it perfect because nobody gets it perfect.
Kimihiko, you’re good. You express your opinion well and with strong conviction. You’re outgoing, aggressive, strong, passionate and creative with a good imagination. You’re an independent thinker and a quick learner. As far as I could observe, you were able to apply the lessons on agreement, disagreement and persuasion from the workshop. Some more easily than others, perhaps because you have used those before. Keep practicing.