Japanese Online Newsletter Vol. 133「肩を叩く」と「背中を押す」(「かたをたたく」と「せなかをおす」)

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A “Tap on the Shoulder” and A “Push Back”

The phrase, “tap on the shoulder”, as is, means the act of tapping someone’s shoulder with your fist to relieve stiffness in the shoulder. But the phrase can mean something else in Japanese. When a manager recommends that a worker resigns, it’s called “tapping on the shoulder”.

The next phrase is “push back”, which doesn’t mean physically pushing the person. Instead, it means helping someone decide when a person struggles with making a decision. When the person decides, he or she may thank the other person for “pushing them back”.

In Japanese, there are many phrases that don’t use the literal meaning. These are quite common phrases in everyday life. So, if you don’t know what they mean, it’s a good idea to ask others, “what does this mean?”.

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