Monday, July 5, 2010

Will Miss #196 - a ritual for everything

One of my students is an older gentleman who pays me in cash at the end of the lesson. There is a certain awkwardness associated with handing money over to someone with whom you have a teacher/student relationship because of the atmosphere of friendliness and cordiality in what is essentially a business relationship. The Japanese have a way of addressing this and many other potentially awkward situations by having a ritual that people can follow. There is a special envelope for giving money. The money is placed in the envelope and handed over in a particular way. This is the way such things are done and everyone expects things to be done this way so there is no embarrassment or strangeness to the experience. The same goes for how business cards are handled, bowing is done, and gifts are offered and accepted.

I like the way in which there are little rituals for certain types of interactions so that everyone knows what to do and how to do it so that there is less risk of embarrassment, and I'll miss that.