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The M Dash

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Business Time: Use These Kotowaza in Your Next Big Meeting!

March 12, 2014

Word to the wise: “Leave the mochi to the mochi store.”

It’s Wednesday, which means only one thing—it’s Business Time! Below, Sarah LaFleur, CEO of MM.LaFleurshares what’s on her mind this week.

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If you can believe it, someone actually used the phrase “open the kimono” with me the other day.

Holy mackerel! Never in a million years did I expect to hear that expression in real life. I thought that was the kind of stuff that filmmakers from the ‘80s and early ‘90s thought bankers might say, along with lines like “Coffee is for closers” (a personal favorite) and “Greed is good” (not as much).

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Let me take this chance to clarify once and for all: “open the kimono” is not a Japanese phrase. As someone who grew up in Tokyo, I can tell you that I’ve never ever heard any Japanese person utter such an obscenity.

The Japanese do, however, have some brilliant idioms known as kotowaza (literal translation: skills with words!) that they use in business and, more broadly, life.

We’re taught kotowaza from a young age, and they’re very much a part of how we communicate in our day-to-day lives. I’d love to share some of my favorites so you can use them in your business meetings and sound wise beyond your years!

– Sarah

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