Updated: Nov 23, 2019
People who have just returned from Japan tell me with excitement how polite people are, how clean the cities were, and how organised everything was. They usually say 'I loved it!' Of course, who doesn't love polite people, clean cities, and punctual trains?!
That leads me to a question: if we like it so much, why don't you turn your city into the place like Japan?
The reason why we don't is somehow understandable. We are a bit lazy and irresponsible. For us to be able to receive great customer service, someone has to provide it. The world is a bit selfish, and we just want to receive it, but we don't want to provide it.
In Japan, people have naturally come to a consensus to mutually contribute to the great service, or clearness or punctuality. We adopt this attitude I expect good service, and I also provide it when it comes to my turn, mostly without even noting it.
But is it that difficult to provide a bit more care into our everyday life and the society? If we do, there will be a return as well. We will be able to live in the clean, polite and organised society. Why don't you try a bi? Tiny attention to detail could change our daily life dramatically.
We can start with a small thing. When you visit a coffee shop next time, just make sure to put your cup and packaging in the bin and return the tray to the counter before leaving. If you can extend a bit further, wipe the table and remove the crumbs.
You won't believe it, but once in Japan, I completely forgot to clean the table at an international chain coffee shop after snacking with my British colleagues. A middle age lady shouted at me. 'What the hell are you doing? (well, she might have been a bit politer, but it sounded like that to me with fear...) You got to take care of your own rubbish!'
She was absolutely right. I just spent too much time in Britain!!! And I forgot our good custom...
If you clean the table, the next customer will enjoy the clean table. If the customer before you cleans the table, you will enjoy the clean table! Same at the football stadia. Have you seen the news that Japanese fans were picking up rubbish after the match of World Cup in Russia last year? If you pick up rubbish, you will get the clean ground and you feel good about it!
That applies to your workplace as well. You might want to leave bang on 5pm. Your client is asking you to get done something asap. You spend half an hour and get it done today. You might feel like you have given up of precious 30 min of your day, but let's just flip the roles now.
A terrible migraine hits you and you are in immediate need of a pain killer. You rushed to the chemist, and the shop keeper was about to close. You beg the guy to sell the medicine you desperately need. Ten passed five, you are relieved with a box of paracetamols in your hand.
Well, in Japan you can rely on many of 24 hours convenience store where you can pick up pretty much anything, but I don't expect that much level of service or commitment because that will technically require you to give much more. But a small potion of giving away doesn't damage your life much.
You just need to put a tiny bit of extra care to everything you do. Then there is always the chain of good acts. Please don't forget rights to be served well always comes with obligations to serve. It's always mutual. That's anyway at the core of our society.
But if you give that tiny bit of extra and the society becomes a bit politer, cleaner and more organised, isn't it something worth a try?
I would be really happy if you could share this Japanese value with more of the Western people :)