Knowing the language changes the work relationship. I have had students that had weekly meeting with their colleagues in Japan. They came to me in hope to have better communication and build stronger trust between the US side and the Japan site.

Episode 1:
“東京の天気はどうですか。” (How is the weather in Tokyo?)
This student asked the Japan leader about how the weather was in Japan, which is a very common way to start the conversation. He noticed that the Japan side became very relaxed after his question about the weather.

Episode 2:
“そろそろ始めましょうか。” (It is about time. Shall we start?)
This student took control of the meeting using this phrase. He felt that everyone on the Japan side paid more attention to his report.

Episode 3:
“プロジェクトはどうですか。何か問題はありますか。” (How is the project going? Is there any issues?)
This student asked about the progress of the project and if there was any issue related to it?” It made the Japan side easier to bring up any issues that they would not have when my student was asking the same questions in English.

Episode 4:
“部長にはいつもお世話になっています。” (Thank the manager for always taking care of me.)
At a gathering at one of the manager’s house, this student thanked his manager’s wife for being under the care of the manager. Apparently it made a good impression on her. She remembered him and mentioned him to her husband frequently.