Japanese hardly ever use the word no (いいえ, i-ie), even when they mean to disagree. Instead, they prefer to express a negative statement differently, and less harshly — albeit less efficiently. Simply put, they value harmony more than being efficient.
The concept of valuing harmony goes far beyond language and permeates every aspect of Japanese life.
The word for harmony in Japanese is wa (和). Significantly, wa also means Japan itself, as in wa-shoku (Japanese food) or wa-fuku (Japanese style clothing).
We can be fast and precise, or choose to take our time to consider other people’s feelings in what we do and how we say things. The choice is ours.
How others see us will be up to them.
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