Otsukaresama, a thoughtful way of appreciating someone’s effort

Otsukaresama is a unique expression to show thoughts on empathy and appreciating someone’s effort . It is a powerful phrase that communicates appreciation, and cultivates the empathy, as an attempt for interpersonal emotion regulation.The spirit of thoughtfulness is what has been reflected in Otsukaresama, a phrase that the Japanese typically use to praise each other for a job well done. The Japanese often
use it to greet each other during or at the end of the workday, or after someone finishes a particularly noteworthy task . It is a sign of acknowledgement of an
effort. Otsukaresama fits as a unique and meaningful expression that balances our thought to someone without being intrusive to other’s privacy.
Otsukaresama is one of the most difficult Japanese words to translate, as it is also one of the examples that language is strongly related to culture. Literally, the word Otsukare means “fatigue”.

True, otsukaresama  is uttered millions of times each day across Japan regardless of whether the speaker truly believes that their coworker put in any real effort. But there are times when you just want to say, “Hey, guy, you worked hard today, buddy. I appreciate that, friend,” without feeling all weird and awkward about it. Otsukaresama lets you do just that in a way that no English phrase really could, and it’s a phrase that many returnees feel quite lost without.


Otsukaresama is a simple statement of acceptance. At the end of the day, it is a signal that acknowledges that one is part of the rhythms of the day. It is a way to communicate appreciation and to cultivate a feeling of being socially accepted. Otsukaresama is a powerful phrase that could be useful to promote empathy. How can we communicate empathy?

Empathy is the process of bringing a quality of presence, non-judgmental compassion and curiosity to both our listening and our speaking. Through empathy, we are able to open our hearts and to hear the deep meaning, pain, yearning and fears underlying people’s expressions. By empathically expressing ourselves, we can share our deepest yearnings, fears, and pains, put forth a vision of what we want, make requests, and thereby build connection and trust across differences.

In daily my interactions with clients and families at work and home, I make sure I communicate with empathy. By communicating with empathy, I mean not only listening for and understanding a patient’s experiences, concerns, and perspective but also communicating this understanding with my intention to help.

I start with mindfulness. I sustain eye contact, sit eye to eye, and give the person my undivided attention, listening to their words and nonverbal behavior—without judgment.



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