In America, we tend to be encouraged to be show our individualist side, take initiative, tell people about our accomplishments, and stick out as much as possible from the rest of society. That’s all fine and dandy, I have nothing against being outgoing/initiative/individualistic. I wish I could be more outgoing, but I was raised to hide, to not stick out. I’m the nail that was hammered down, way down.The worst problem I have is with compliments: When someone says something nice, I don’t know what to say. I usually try to deny it, deflect it, or downright deny it. Doing this whole youtube/blog thing has been very tough for me. I hate getting out there, and the only way I’ve been able to do it is by not telling any of my friends. That’s right, my best friend doesn’t even know I ‘tube; it’s too embarrassing for me.
But I digress. In Japan, you need to be humble. Don’t let anyone compliment you, they are only doing it as a formality. You need to do them a favor, and respect them, by deflecting their compliment and coming up with some kind of excuse that makes you look worse. I spent an entire week in Japanese conversation class a few years back learning about doing just this. Here are a few examples that you can take and use for your self. Many of the answers are interchangeable in many different situations.
- トウシさんの 日本語はうまいですね
- Ohh Toshi-san, you are so good at Japanese!
- No no, it’s not that good at all
- でも、 漢字はまだ 読めません
- But I still can’t read kanji
- でも、 私の 発音はまだまだ。。。
- But my accent is still…
- そう 言ってくれるとありがたいんだ
- By saying that you make me very happy
(The last one is the least humble of the four examples)
The video below doesn’t say much else, it just says it in a slightly humorous way. Remember everyone, be humble. If you’re good enough at something, others will praise you for it on their own (at which point you must deny, deny, deny).