Gamesmanship - part 1

Gamesmanship, n. The use or practice of using dubious yet not technically illegal methods to win a game or further one's position. Origin: "Gamesmanship: The Art of Winnings Games Without Actually Cheating", by Stephen Potter, 1947.

Being a foreigner in Japan has many advantages as well as disadvantages. But with clever use of gamesmanship it is fairly easy to get your own way or further your standing in everyday life. In a series of posts I will try to explain some of the finer details of gamesmanship that professionals as well as amateurs to the sport may want to try out.

Part 1 - More polite than polite

It is a well known fact that the Japanese are considered, no less than by themselves, to be very polite. As a foreigner you are often forgiven your brash and rude ways for the level of politeness required in common situations is understandable only to the Japanese themselves. The first phrase the amateur gamesman must learn is "Tondemo arimasen!" (pronounced quickly as "Tondemarimasen!"). This phrase is accompanied by holding your open hand in front of your face, the palm towards the speaker, waving it left to right briefly (fig. 1).

Whenever a Japanese person compliments you on anything whatsoever saying the phrase and waving your hand will show them you are not only capable of brushing off compliments, but also that you can do it in the most polite Japanese way. Not only will your standing increase with the speaker, but you are almost guaranteed further compliments on your Japanese and manners. A quick and easy way for the shy or inexperienced amateur gamesman to make a good impression with the minimum of effort.

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