Business Meeting

Topics of conversation: Politics, Cricket, Films and Indian Economic Reforms

Cricket in India is almost a national pastime. India has produced some world-class cricketers

The traditional way of greeting in India, is performed by holding your palms together, as in praying, and saying ‘Namaste’

Prepare for things to change at the last minute

Even though your Indian counterparts may speak English, there are still language barriers

Before booking any trip to India, look at all the religious holiday calendars

Address people by their last names

Don’t go in for a handshake with a woman

Shaking hands is also an acceptable way to greet people, among urban and westernized Indians

Among the younger urban Indians, a ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ with a wave of the hand is also an acceptable form of greeting

Indian society is conservative about heterosexual physical contact and relationships. Refrain from greeting people with hugs and kisses

Shaking hands with women, is not universally accepted in Indian society

The acceptable way to beckon someone is to hold your hand out, palm downward, and make a scooping motion with fingers

Do not point to someone with your finger, since that is likely to be interpreted as an accusatory gesture

Standing erect with your hands on your hips is likely to be seen as an aggressive and dominating posture

Whistling and winking are usually perceived as rude, and unacceptable behaviours, as they have sexual connotations

Talking to a woman who is walking alone is not advisable, since it is likely to be seen as a proposition or other inappropriate gesture

Seniority, age and authority are respected in India, both in business and in public life

Managers are expected to give direct and specific instructions to subordinates – and subordinates are expected to carry out the instructions unquestioningly

Do not expect too much initiative from subordinates, contractors etc. Plan in great detail and explain exactly what needs to be done

Meetings can seem very informal and it is possible for several meetings, to be conducted by one person at the same time, and in the same room

Be prepared for meetings to start and finish late, and for interruptions to occur on a regular basis

Take the time to engage in this process – it is very important to the development of solid, long-term relationships

A contract is a statement of the best set of circumstances at a given point in time

It is not considered intrusive for the leader to take a detailed interest in the work of individuals within the team.

English language levels are, on the whole, very high in India and amongst the educated classes

Do not be surprised if people seem ready to agree to most things – it is difficult for Indians to show direct disagreement

People will tend to tell you what they think you want to hear. Always seek detailed clarification of any agreements reached

Try to be sensitive to local religious conventions

Do not try to push things along too quickly in the early stages – take the time to develop relationships

Both society and business are extremely hierarchically arranged, and many Indians find it extremely difficult to work in a non-hierarchical structure

Most decisions are made at the top of an organization

Senior managers are not expected to engage in work, which could be undertaken by somebody lower down the organization

Don’t offer alcohol to a Muslim or beef to a Hindu

If you’re like most American corporations, you’ll choose Delhi for your Indian headquarters

Expect to travel all over India to do business

Expect to start and end your day late

PowerPoint presentations are generally accepted to start the discussion. It is necessary, however, to send a more detailed proposal in advance

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