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Direct eye contact offensive?

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Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question,
please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

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Direct eye contact offensive? 2005/4/23 05:40
Are Japanese offended by direct eye contact in certain situations? I was at a Japanese estaurant, and the Japanese server/cook at our table seemed bothered that I was looking him in the eye.
by Eleanor  

.. 2005/4/23 08:36
It depended on the situation, what was the cook doing when you were staring him in the eyes? cooking or talking, i'm sure i'd be a little uneasy if someone was staring me in the eye the whole time when i was cooking?
by .. rate this post as useful

basically, no problem 2005/4/23 12:58
I'm Japanese and I always look at the eyes when I'm talking to someone, whether it's a friend or a chef over the table. I see a lot of locals doing the same.

But when you are making an apology or when someone is angry at you and giving you a lecture, you should often look at a lower point with your head slightly down.

If no one was angry, I think the chef just needed to concentrate on his pots and pans, or he just couldn't look straight into your beautiful eyes, which also happens quite often :)

by Uco rate this post as useful

. 2005/4/24 09:14
In general Japanese do not stare at your eyes all the time while talking.
It is considered uncomfortable to be done so unless they are very intimate or they are seriously discussing an important issue.

Moreover, he must have been much more uncomfortable as he was gazed at by a lovely foreign woman.

by meringue4 rate this post as useful

to Eleanor from Japanese students 2005/5/16 19:12
We thought about your questions, too. Here are some of our answers.

1. I think Japanese people feel ashamed or scared when they are looked in their eyes.

2. I'm offended by direct eye contact in certain situation. I know eye contact is important. But too direct eye contact makes me uncomfortable. You should keep from staring.

3. Japanese people don't look at someone's eyes while they're talking with someone. Foreign people think it's strange. But it is a gap of custom.

4. Japanese people are not accustomed to looking at eyes while talking.

We hope our answers will help you!

Thanks for reading. We're looking forward to your comments. Thank you.

by stars rate this post as useful

nice 2005/5/16 21:12
Dear high school students, since you asked for anybody's comment...

Your English is very good. I did not find any important mistakes in your answers at all.But let the native speakers comment better.

It also is thoughtful ( and very cute!) of you to post an additional answer to the question.

by yummi rate this post as useful

Direct eye contact 2005/9/21 13:14
I think that Japanese feel a feeling of oppression when were looked in the eye. I often look in the eye when I want to blame someone or want to be listened seriously. So when you look someone in the eye, they maybe think that you are expression other feelings besides what you are saying.
by ma-ra rate this post as useful

... 2005/9/21 13:42
japanese people are people. just ordinary people. if its your way to look people in the eye when you talk to them, then do it. some people will get offended some people wont. but there is no special rule for looking at japanese people.
by ... rate this post as useful

We are puzzled 2005/9/21 15:27
Japanese people are unaccustomed to direct eye contact in daily life. They look someone in the eye usually in special situations like job interviews. But I don't think direct eye contact is offensive. Maybe most of Japanese don't think so. They are just unfamiliar with direct eye contact, and they are just puzzled.
by Ava rate this post as useful

yes it is 2005/9/23 05:33
My japanese teacher in college just last week said that she felt extremely uncomfortable in america at first because of the direct eye contact here. I japan, it's rude/uncomfortable to constantly look someone in the eye, you're supposed to look away or down at some point. In America we use eye contact to show we're listening. In Japan, you do it verbally (hai, mmm), or by nodding your head.
by pat rate this post as useful

... 2005/9/23 11:13
if its true, then its a japanese custom. are you japanese??? be yourself not something your not
by ... rate this post as useful

DEEP eye contact 2005/9/23 17:25
For sure, I can say that direct eye contact in Japan is NOT rude (unless you're in pre-war time and speaking to the Emperor).

But I noticed lately that people from western culture tend to look into the eyes more deeply. It's difficult to express "deep" on the internet, but lets say that I would look that deep into someone's eyes, only when I'm madly in love with that person. So that kind of tickles a bit when you're not used to it. Especially when the person is the same gender as you :)

by Uco rate this post as useful

hmm.. 2005/10/7 19:28
Well, I'm British, and although I look people in the eye when I talk to them I usually look away from them for a short while before looking back in their eyes again. If someone speaks to me and is staring me in the eye all the time I get a little uncomfotable....

Maybe I'm just odd, haha

by kate Derrick rate this post as useful

Deep, deeper, deepest 2005/10/8 06:19
I was once in a crowd of random townspeople gathered (out of curiousity and respect) at Zushi Eki to greet the Emperor (the father of the current Emperor). When I emerged from my bow, Emp. H. was gazing directly into my eyes (I would certainly have said "deeply"). The man had incredibly penetrating eyes!

My conclusion: often "staring" is just surprise.

by watagei rate this post as useful

piercing blue eyes 2005/10/8 22:52
Like Clint Eastwood, my eyes seem to make a few Japanese nervous. I have noticed it occasionally and make adjustments. Most Japanese don't care though.
On a side note, it is proven the most common/comfortable stance for talking males tends to be side by side. It is a more neutral stance that keeps the primal feelings of dominence in check. Avoids direct eye contact which is still perceived by some to be a threat. "You eyeballing me boy?"
by BB rate this post as useful

I like it! 2005/10/28 00:17
I'm Japanese. I like people looking at me in the eyes when listening to me. It feels like they are taking what I'm saying seriously. But growing up in Japan where people don't make eye contact that much, I'm not at good at looking someone in the eyes. Instead, I nod a lot to show that "I'm listening".
Anyway, I like your custom of direct eye contact. It's more like you are attending than just nodding with absent mind.
by Ema rate this post as useful

to stars 2005/10/29 04:32
I read this discussion for the first time - so far so good. But dear "stars" - you must have felt awful after reading "yummi's" comment to your post. I think it was very unpolite. Please do not mind yummi. Even other people than native English speakers can send their comments to this forum - especially Japanese. Keep your head up - your comment was also very good. Go on and all the best to you.
by Scandinavian rate this post as useful

My goodness Scandinavian 2005/10/29 10:20
You must have misunderstood something. There would be no reason for the "stars" to feel awful about yummi's comment, which was labeled "nice" and was generally complimentary.
by watagei rate this post as useful

watagei, 2005/10/29 18:57
I also thought yummi's comment was quite impolite. What he (or she?) basically said was - or that's the way it sounds - "It's cute that you try, and your English is ok, but let the native speakers do the talking here".

Even without the belittling tone, I think it's not polite to comment on someone's language skills, positively or negatively, when it's not asked for. I can see that the "looking forward to your comments" could be understood as a request to have the language reviewed, but I would have thought there's something to say about the content too and not just the amount of mistakes!

"stars" and others, please continue posting even if you're not native English speakers, your comments are much appreciated.

by another Scandinavian rate this post as useful

Now I see where the misunderstanding is 2005/11/1 01:55
Let me give you my interpretation of what yummi said. Yummi is not a speaker of English as his or her first language. He or she took stars' invitation for comments as an invitation in general (not to exclude issues of English usage). But having commented, yummi then said, it would be better for him or her (that's yummi) to leave the commenting (on stars' English usage) to the native speakers. It did not seem to me AT ALL to be something directed by yummi to stars, telling the young people that they were not allowed to comment. In short, I think you read something into yummi's posting that simply wasn't there.

I doubt if the stars were as offended as you Scandinavians were...but of course only the stars (and yummi) can tell us what was actually intended and what the reaction was.


by watagei rate this post as useful

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