Lost in Translation: How Learning to say “Thank you for Listening” in Japanese Improves Communication

In a place where nearly all of its population speaks the native tongue, you might find yourself lost, not in place, but in translation. Be heard, and be heard correctly. Here are some things to know when thanking someone for their time, and presence in Japanese.

Different forms and ways to say Thank you and Thank you for listening

Learning how to say simple phrases in another language, especially the language of the place where you are traveling, can be quite helpful during your stay. This assures us that we can get by our days by being polite with simple phrases like “thank you," “you are welcome”, "I am sorry," and "hello." They may seem short, but these phrases can be magical when appropriately used. Now, how can we leave an impression after a conversation? It is by knowing different ways to say "thank you" or "thank you for listening" in the Japanese language.

The most common translation of thank you in Japanese is "ありがとう (Arigatou)". You can often hear this in frequent conversations with people who are casual enough with one another. On a different note, "どうもありがとう (doumo arigatou)" is different as it translates "thanks a lot." The same goes with "どうもありがとうございました (doumo arigatou gozaimashita)" which translates "thank you very much." These expressions are more polite and used by very appreciative people. 

If you share a close relationship with someone and the favor done is quite simple, and casual, you can skip formalities by saying "doumo!".  "Doumo" is very casual and shouldn't be said carelessly, on regular occasions it would be more fitting to say "ありがとうございました(arigatou gozaimashita)" as it is more polite, formal, and commonly used.

Now let’s get to phrases for “Thank you for listening.”

We all have our own share of trouble, and sometimes the best way to lighten it is to simply speak of it, even if they do not respond, knowing someone else knows of it can make us feel better. “聞いてくれてありがとう (Kiite kurete arigatou)” is meant to thank someone who shares a casual relationship with the person, and is commonly heard between close friends and family members.

On another note, if the person who took his time to hear you is a colleague, friend, even a social worker, anyone who has a formal relationship with you, it is better to say “聞いてくれてありがとうございました (Kiite kurete arigatou gozaimashita)” or  “お時間ありがとうございました (Ojikan arigatou gozaimashita)". Both thanks the person for sharing his time with you but takes on a more formal approach than the first form. It appreciates a person while still recognizing the relationship between individuals.

お聞きいただきありがとうございました (O kiki itadaki arigatou gozaimashita)” is a combination of “thank you for your time” and formal thanks that is addressed to your superiors. This is more prominent in the workplace as a sign of respect. When expressing a concern to your boss, it’s important to thank them for setting time aside to listen to what you have to say.

In addition, the phrase “thank you very much for your attention” or “ご清聴ありがとうございました (go seichou arigatou gozaimashita)” is commonly used in talks, business presentations and speeches, particularly, at the end of a presentation for it gives a very formal and professional impression to any kind of audience. It is part of formalities at the last part, similar to its western counterpart of “thank you for listening”. The phrase “Arigatou gozaimashita” can also be used as an alternative if “Goseichuo arigatou gozaimashita” is hard to remember or pronounce. 

The Effects of Responding Politely to a Japanese with “Thank you for Listening” 

It is important to understand the culture of language for effective communication to exist between speakers. It is common to hear polite words like thank you in Japanese culture. They may also take different forms depending on the status of the speakers are. Longer words tend to be more formal while shortened versions tend to be more casual, and knowing how to pick between them is important to show respect.

  Generally, the phrase, "thank you for listening" is often used as an appreciation for a person who listens. The phrase also creates a medium for people to communicate well despite language barriers. It thanks the person for spending his time with the speaker, and shows appreciation on the part of the speaker. It may also encourage further topics and conversation, truly improving communication.

Ways to bridge through language barriers

Many foreigners and visitors to Japan may find speaking the language difficult, but that is the same for all languages in particular, not just Japanese. To bridge the language barrier and convey your thanks, here are some of the ways that you can use;

  • You can ask someone to translate for you. That person may be a family member, colleague, or friend as long as he can understand what you want to convey, for this that person must have a basic grasp of both Japanese and English.   

  • You can download Japanese language tutorial or dictionary applications that contains basic translations, though it may be handy, it may be less effective and good in the short run.

  • You can make your own phrasebook or buy one. Some people appreciate physical books more than digital copies and find them more useful. You can also add personal notes to put your understanding of the words and ask for clarifications later. It may be easier to remember things when you write them several times.

  • Using translation applications is also a possibility. Though this may create a dependence on the application, it is good to solve short term language problems.

  • Practice! The best way is to practice speaking Japanese, even a few basic words per day will grow useful in the long run. In thanking someone, in the end, it is more genuine to say it by yourself without the help of others, human or machine. This way is also to be certain that you can truly convey what you want to say.


Learning a certain language does help a lot in terms of communicating. Also, learning how to say “Thank you for listening” can depict a person’s character, and it makes the other party feel appreciated. Most people find it flattering when a person tells them they are good listeners. Moreover, being polite and respectful makes an impact in terms of communication. True enough, the language barrier is a problem for many tourists. Still, there are multiple ways to resolve such problems by knowing the available resources present in our era. With technology being available globally, the challenge of conveying a message is reduced. Smartphones made a global impact due to their multiple abilities apart from communication. It is with respectful language that we get the right answers to our questions and harmony with each other. We can now say that being lost in translation is not a worry anymore!

You don't have to worry alone anymore A Q&A community about Japan

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