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Excuse me - I mean Thank you

2013/02/01

Have you ever gone out of your way to help out, and been frustrated that no one even showed appreciation by saying "thank you"?

Most native English teachers who work at a private high school know that sometimes things can get hectic, and picking up the slack or filling in in an emergency can be a big life-saver to your coworkers.  Some native teachers get a bad rap because perhaps their predecessors were a little irresponsible or lazy, but most Japanese teachers are extremely grateful when they can count on a responsible, hard-working person to help out in any situation.  However, not every culture expresses gratitude in the same way, and many people in Japan in particular tend to express gratitude by saying "excuse me" instead!

By saying すみません "sumimasen," it allows people to express appreciation in addition to the more obvious expression of apology that is easily translated into English as "excuse me" or "I'm sorry."

So next time you feel underappreciated, it may be wise to remember that not everyone expresses appreciation in the same way, especially across cultures, and your colleagues may have been saying "thank you" all along.


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