Folded Name Card

by Neil Verwey

In Japan there are no home-made swear-words. The closest one is “baka”, which means ‘fool’.

This is not to say the Japanese do not have elaborate ways of insulting one another. If one drops the honorifics in the language to someone, it could be an unforgettable affront to them.

Politicians in Japan understand the art of delicately insulting each other, but some of them are not too delicate.

Mr. Fujii plainly didn’t like Mr. Tanaka. For a man of Mr. Fujii’s generation, personal criticism would have been unthinkable. So he did the next best thing.

He launched a devastating attack on Mr. Tanaka’s business card. A business card is the most important element in any professional encounter in Japan and the careful handling of such a card is of the utmost importance.

Before any conversations can be exchanged, before business can be transacted, two people meeting for the first time, must exchange name cards.

The junior one of the two humbly offers his card first – holding it in both hands with the writing facing upwards. Both parties then scrutinize one another’s cards, which contain information about their owners and their place in the Japanese hierarchy – their job titles and addresses.

The thickness of the card on which the information is printed and the richness of the logo – all send subtle signals about the person who presents it. A name card is an extension of its owner.

All this Mr. Fuji understood very well. So, when Mr. Tanaka came to visit him, he knew just what to do. He refused his name card.

Mr. Tanaka insisted, and finally Mr. Fuji accepted the card. Then came the knock-out blow:

Mr. Fuji folded Mr. Tanaka’s name card!

To those who know name card etiquette the insult was unmistakable. The following days, the story was in all national newspapers.
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

We may laugh at the antics of the politicians of Japan, but it reminds us how important our Christian life-style is.

Ephesians 4:32

Kindness is definitely one of the characteristics of God’s people.