Instead Of Telling Jokes At The Water Cooler, Japanese Workers Tell Stories Of Their Past Failures

japanese businessmen

Photo: ap

Instead of telling jokes to break the ice at the workplace, Japanese workers share stories of personal failure or embarrassment with one another to get to know their co-workers.The “shippai dan” (or “failure talks”) custom is a humble strategy that isn’t as aggressive as joke-telling in American culture, which is typically made at the expense of someone else, says Michael Moffa at

It’s a humble way of getting to know your coworkers without offending anyone.

Moffa also talks about how Americans can learn something from the Japanese. With the growth of diversity in the workplace, telling jokes might come off the wrong way because of the “cultural barriers to grasping and appreciating jokes”:

The problem with this modern sanitised and shackled joke telling is that the currently available targets just aren’t as tempting as the old ones were. Hence, there is much less interest in telling jokes that are not at some well-defended group’s expense, at work or anywhere else.

If you’re ever unsure about the context of a joke, better off proving you’re friendly by simply smiling and keeping quiet — or talking about your past failures.

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