“Haragei” is the Japanese art of communication without pronouncing words. In fact the rumors of the telepathic abilities of Japanese are exaggerated. Their art of guessing the thoughts of the interlocutor is based on the natural politeness and delicacy. It seems that to guess the intentions and wishes of a stranger is a difficult task but Japanese deal with that every day. To start with try to guess the thought of your close friends of relatives. It is easier than anticipating the next phrase of a completely unknown person.
The art of anticipating the interlocutor’s thoughts implies two important aspects. The first one is that it may appear to be helpful during the business negotiations or solving the difficult problems without mutual reproaches and loud argues. But on the other hand the verbal or physical action of a person such as gesture or posing is able to have an impact on other people’s will and manipulate their behavior. “Haragei” is used by Japanese when they want to influence the intentions and actions of their interlocutors and get the maximum profit for themselves. In the European cultures this phenomenon could acquire the negative characteristics. In Japan it also is divided into the “good haragei” and “bad” one. The first one helps the people to avoid the tension and misunderstandings during the process of communication. The second one may suppress other people’s will and make them hide their real intentions and emotions.
If a foreigner hears a Japanese dialogue and sees the result of the conversation he may be puzzled as the goal and result seem to be the opposite at the first sight. For example one employee wants to visit a fast food restaurant during the lunch break and asks his mate to go with him. His colleague doesn’t want to make a company as he has taken a bento lunch with him from home. However he will agree in a reluctant manner while a European citizen would politely but firmly refuse. In that way the one who actually refuses relies upon the sensitiveness and empathy of his interlocutor when he pronounces a slow “well, yes”.
The ones who don’t master this art of circumlocutionizing will never be considered to be a skillful interlocutor in Japan. The Japanese culture is supposed to be a highly contextual one. That means Japanese see the implicit sense in every smallest detail. But they won’t feel themselves uneasy during the long pause in the conversation of two strangers.