5 Japanese Workplace Phrases Everyone Should Know

If you’re thinking about working in Japan or are in the process of moving there, you’ll want to commit these phrases to memory as soon as possible. It’ll make life a lot more bearable–or at least a little less confusing–to be able to communicate properly with your employers and fellow employees.

5. ちょっと… (chotto…)

Chotto means “a little,” but when someone trails off at the end of saying it after you ask them a question, it means “I don’t wanna say no to your face, but no.”

Grumpy Cat says "Yeah...no."

4. すみません (sumimasen)

Both used for “excuse me” and “I’m sorry,” this is also a way of thanking someone when they’ve done you a favor or have been inconvenienced by you in any teeny tiny way.

thank you for your consideration

3. お疲れ様でした (otsukaresama deshita)

Say this to coworkers you pass during the day, when you leave the office at the end of the day, and later on at the bar when everyone’s clinking their pints of nama together for the kanpai. It’s basically a way of appreciating the hard work someone’s by acknowledging their utter exhaustion.

too much work to do, but thanks for your effort!

2. 頑張って (ganbatte)

Depending on the situation, ganbatte can mean “good luck,” “do your best,” or “hang in there.” If you see any of your friends or coworkers having a rough time of things, you can throw them a heartfelt ganbatte! in place of offering any actual help or practical advice–at least, from what I can tell, that seems to be the accepted practice.

Cinderella cleaning

1. よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku onegai shimasu)

In Japanese class, we learn this phrase first as the counterpart for “Nice to meet you” when we learn how to introduce ourselves. More than that, though, you employ this whenever someone is doing or about to be doing something for you or you’re asking a favor of them. This phrase conveys feelings of being in the other person’s hands and asking them not to let you down; it’s “please” and “thank you” all wrapped into one.

Gary Cole needs you to come in on Saturday


What’s your favorite office lingo?

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