One of the world’s largest economies and one of the world’s richest cultures with its own variety of English, India has a similar number of English speakers to those in the UK & America combined.
Yet many Westerners say they have difficulty communicating effectively with some Indian colleagues. Here are ten tips you can use to help build successful working relationships.
TEN POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN DOING BUSINESS WITH INDIA
1 RECOGNISE INDIA
This is one of the first questions people ask you. ‘What do you think of India?’ RECOGNISE THE VARIETY and richness of Indian culture – languages, communities, religions, cultures.
2 BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP
Show interest in people and the country. Don’t click into task too fast. Indians ask personal questions as a way of getting to know you. Don’t be shy. Do the same.
3 EXERCISE PATIENCE
Advance deadlines wherever possible. Be clear about deadlines but show appreciation when they are observed.
Show interest in the process. Follow it up. To check accuracy ask HOW colleagues arrive at a particular conclusion. People in India appreciate it if you go through things with them in detail. They worry about making mistakes and getting criticised (or worse) by their management. Your motto should be, ‘Don’t expect, INSPECT.’
5 DON’T SHOOT IF IT GOES WRONG
Talk it through, set guidelines for progressing and checking future work.
6 EXPECT FORMALITY
Indians tend to think that’s what Europeans are like, as opposed to Americans. It takes time to get used to our professional style, which may be more informal to start with.
7 BE WARY OF THE ‘NEVER SAY NO’ CULTURE
Be aware of the ‘Yes, no issues’ culture. People may say they can do things that they can’t, in a time frame that they can’t deliver. This is out of a desire to please and sometimes an over-optimistic view of the challenges. Take account of this in allocating responsibilities and deadlines.
8 CUT THROUGH THE HIERARCHY
India tends to have a top down managerial style, meaning that you may be on a switchback of decisions being referred upwards before relay to you. Try to find ways of dealing with the operator direct or use an experienced colleague to help you.
9 MODERATE YOUR LANGUAGE
Most Indian operators are more used to Indian English than British English. There are differences.
They may have difficulties in understanding your use of language and you may have difficulties with theirs until you get used to each other. Everyone says that repeated exposure eases comprehension.
If all attempts at oral comprehension fail, use the time-honoured escape route, ‘Send me an email.’
10 MAKE IT PERSONAL
Indian colleagues may produce better and more timely work if they know the consequences to you of YOUR failure to perform.
To find out more about SIMON & SIMON’s range of cultural training courses, and how these could benefit your organisation please visit our cultural training webpage