TooBen Creative Writing Column

TooBen Creative Writing Column

TooBen Creative Writing Based on Translation Column (3)

Why Are Japanese Such Poor Decision-Makers?

When you ask your Japanese friend or acquaintance (if you have any) what they want to have for lunch, they would say, “Anything will do”, for more than 80 per cent of probability. If they answer, “Definitely, Ramen at a such and such restaurant”, they are determined to try that particular dish. Or they’re used to make a decision (even small, insignificant ones) every split second due to, say, a long-living experience in some Western country.

Now, why do they give you that stock answer? Do they really not care about their lunch? Or they just can’t decide on their own?

Well, my answer lies in the middle of both: People genuinely don’t give a rap about what their stomach wants for lunch unless it intensely craves a specific food. More precisely, they’d rather not decide at all for a petty thing such as lunch, particularly when their attention and energy must go to a more important thing like a meeting in the afternoon or an enjoyable conversation during lunchtime.

Low Decision-Making Skills

Making decisions is not their cup of Japanese tea. They are reluctant to do so and, therefore, want to minimize making ones. But, on the other hand, when they have to do anyway, they want to make it perfect. Probably, that’s why they need an extended time and chain of decision-making. As a result, decision-making becomes so tiresome and stressful that they occasionally opt to skip if they can.

It’s so appalling to admit that the Japanese are terrible decision-makers. During my employment days, I used to see my bosses skirting around issues without making any significant decisions. A non-Japanese friend who teaches at a university in Japan occasionally grumbles how students have difficulty choosing their career path.

But, Japanese low decision-making ability might be just a matter of course, considering how scarce encouragement and discipline they receive in childhood to decide independently. Often taught to follow seniors’ advice and suddenly thrown into society after graduating from school, they are at a loss faced with many bifurcates or even trifurcates to handle.

Deciding is De-Greying

Hopefully, things will change, even at a baby step, so that Japanese children will become adults who can choose their way through the clutter. On the other hand, however, I think their unwillingness to make a decision has something to do with their love of the grey zone. As I mentioned in Is Japanese Gray Zone a Sign of Insincerity?, they enjoy a ‘grey’ state of things.

For greyness lovers, decision-making is not gratifying because deciding is clarifying their will in that specific area. The moment you chose to have pizza for dinner, for example, your chances for sushi, tempura, and any other dishes will just disappear. But in the grey zone, all those possibilities still exist with equal probability of being chosen, eternally, unless you choose. Well, a little far-fetched it may sound, but they may want to stay in that chaotic, uncertain area as much as they can.

 Since March 2006. Last update July 26, 2021. Copyright (C) Tuben. All rights reserved.