India is the seventh largest country by area and the second most populous country with over 1.2 billion people. This industrial leader is the home of millions of poor people. Religion and language are separate. Therefore, we can say that India is a difficult place to do business, but knowing the human sense and behavior can help us to negotiate better with Indian companies and businesspeople.
Before doing business in India, it is better to identify a local intermediary. Individuals or teams of negotiators can manage negotiations in India. This person will help to cover the cultural and communications gap and getting the necessary papers signed and stamped.
Meetings start with some small talk intended to establish personal rapport. This may include some personal questions about your family. It is important to be patient and let the Indian side set the pace.
Westerners may shake hands, however, greeting with ‘namaste’ (na-mas-TAY) (placing both hands together with a slight bow) is appreciated and shows respect for Indian customs.
In India, men shake hands with men when meeting or leaving. Western women may offer their hand to a westernized Indian man, but not normally to others. Traditional Indian women may shake hands with foreign women but not usually with men.
Indians value personal space so it is better don’t stand close to Indians.
When an Indian smiles and jerks his/her head backward - a gesture that looks somewhat like a Western “no” - or moves his head, this means “yes”.
Hand and arm waved up and down (Western “good-bye”) means “come here.”
The Western’s side-to-side hand wave for “hello” is frequently interpreted by Indians as “no” or “go away.”
Use your right hand only to touch someone, pass money or pick up merchandise. The left hand is considered unclean.
Never point with a single finger or two fingers. Point with whole hand.
Indians are very conscious of the protocol. Always present business cards when introduced. English is appropriate for business cards.
Decisions are strongly influenced from the top. Usually one person makes all major decisions. Attempt to deal with the highest-level person available.
To begin a meeting first ask about your counterpart’s interests, hobbies, etc and then go deeply to business discussions.
Business is slow and difficult in India. Be polite, but persistent. Restate your request firmly with a smile if someone tells you that the deal cannot be done. Plan on several visits before you reach an agreement.
You may be offered a sugary, milky tea, coffee or a soft drink. Don’t refuse. Note that your glass or cup may be refilled as soon as it is emptied.
Indian counterparts may not show up for scheduled meetings. Be prepared to reschedule.
Business can be discussed during meals in restaurants or in hotel. Allow your host to initiate business conversation.
Never refuse an invitation at home or to a dinner of a business counterpart , the host pays for guests; if you can’t make it, offer a plausible excuse.
Indian Muslims don’t drink any alcohol. Most Hindus, especially women, do not consume alcohol.
At a social gathering a garland of flowers is often placed around a guest’s neck. Remove it after a few minutes and carry it in your hand to show humility.
Allow hosts to serve you. Never refuse food, but don’t feel obligated to empty your plate. Hindu hosts are never supposed to let their guests’ plates be empty.
If hosts eat with hands, assure them you enjoy doing the same. If utensils are not used, use your right hand and your first three fingers and thumb only.
For business, men should wear suits and ties. During summer months, you may omit the jacket.
Women should wear conservative pantsuits or dresses.
Many Indians do not wear shoes inside a home. Follow your host. Make sure your socks are clean and do not have holes.
When an Indian answers, “I will try,” he or she generally means “no.” This is considered a polite “no.”
Ask permission before smoking. It is considered rude to smoke in presence of elders.
Especially for Women
While India is still a male-dominated society, there are many women in professional positions, some with significant authority and influence. At the same time, women are still struggling to obtain positions of similar income and authority as men.
Nevertheless, visiting businesswomen should have few problems in the country as long as they act professionally in business and social situations.
Many Southern Indians do not use family names. Use Mr. /Ms. Plus their first name. Muslims, Sikhs, and others have many variations of naming patterns. It is often best to ask people politely how to address them correctly. In that case, make sure you do the same for your own name.
Fonte: a cura di Exportiamo, di Morvarid Mahmoodabadi, firstname.lastname@example.org
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