In the business world rapport can be established or broken by the way you hold an object in your hand. This is especially true of business cards.

When a Japanese businessman hands you his card, you should not take it in one hand and summarily stuff it into your pocket. To hold the card in a single hand, give it a cursory glance, and stow it in a pocket shows disrespect. Holding a business card in a cursory way, gripped between the thumb and side of your forefinger, is acceptable in the U.S. but not okay in Japan.

In Japan, you are expected to receive a business card reverently. You should grasp it with both hands, touch it with the sensitive tactile pads of your thumb in tandem with at least two fingertips of each hand, and give it a careful reading. In a still more reverent display, you'd involve all five fingers, again of both hands, in the holding. The more tactile hands-on attention you give the business card, the more respect you show. Holding it reverently signals that you've not just received the card, but taken ownership.

About the Author

David Givens
David B. Givens, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, WA, and the author of Your Body at Work: Sight-reading the Body Language of Business,Bosses, and Boardrooms.

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