敬語とコミュニケーション

In general, keigo, or honorific expressions in Japanese, are categorized into three groups: teineigo (polite language), sonkeigo (respectful language), and kenjogo (humble language). Teineigo is a soft and polite ways of expressing oneself and includes the addition of prefixes such as “o” and “go” to nouns and also the use of “desu,” “masu,” and “gozaimasu” at the end of the sentence. Sonkeigo is a respectful way of describing actions of others, while kenjogo is used to show one’s respect to others by lowering oneself when describing one’s own action.

Keigo should be used especially towards senior staff at work, clients and business partners, people older than you, and those whom you meet for the first time. By using appropriate expressions, either standard or honorific, your social position and status and those of others become clear. For example, when expressing gratefulness, you want to use “arigato” to a familiar person and “arigato gozaimasu” to those who are older than you or whom you meet for the first time. It should make your communication with someone significantly smoother if you become capable of handling appropriate keigo expressions at appropriate situations. Mastering perfect keigo is not easy and can be challenging, however. One way to become familiar with keigo is to learn from real-life examples by paying attention to phrases being used around you on different occasions.

You can also express feelings by using body language such as bowing and eye contact. Giving nods and interjections to the speaker at appropriate times can also help conversations go smoothly. Being creative is the key to pleasant communication.

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