Trivia: What is "enryo", and how should you respond to it?

Nov 22, 2021

Q.

What is “enryo”, and how should you respond to it?

A.

Did you know that Japanese people decline an offer to be thoughtful? This is called “enryo” and it’s a manner that Japanese people use all the time in conversations and is considered a way of being polite through being reserved and not assertive.

For example, if you invite your Japanese colleague to have dinner at your home, you might get declined. However, this is not because they are disinterested or dislike you - it’s actually out of kindness. Your Japanese colleague might be thinking how accepting an offer might mean burdening you with the effort to cook the dinner and clean up which would require a lot of effort.

So what should you do if it’s guaranteed that Japanese people will show enryo to your offers? It’s simple: you ask them a second time by insisting so that your colleague feels comfortable accepting on the second time.

This is how Japanese people show appreciation in a polite way, so don’t feel like making a second offer is pushy - it’s strategic.

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