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Indian Business Culture Overall Business Culture Appointments Be early but be prepared to wait The more you wait, the less important you are Avoid scheduling appointments in March Dress Code Suit and tie but shirtsleeves and a tie are acceptable; salwar kameez / sari for women

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Overall Business Culture

  • Appointments

    • Be early but be prepared to wait

    • The more you wait, the less important you are

    • Avoid scheduling appointments in March

  • Dress Code

    • Suit and tie but shirtsleeves and a tie are acceptable; salwar kameez / sari for women

    • Muted colors

    • Foreign visitors

      • suit and tie

      • Indian dress appreciated and seen as a sign of friendship

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • Conversation

    • ‘Small talk’ in business meetings to establish rapport and trust

    • Personal questions are normal

    • Disagreements expressed indirectly unless the person is the boss or a trusting relationship exists amongst peers

    • Popular topics – Cricket, Bollywood, Politics and Economic Reforms, and Indian traditions and history (with foreign visitors)

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • Topics to avoid in a discussion

    • Religion

    • Pakistan

    • Poverty

  • Address by first name / prefix?

    • Usually prefix followed by last name

    • Once clearance is given, then first name

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • Gift Giving

    • Should not be too expensive

    • Generally not expected in the first meeting

    • No leather gifts

    • Avoid black and white wrapping paper

    • A gift representative of your culture is appreciated

    • Be cautious before gifting alcohol

    • If invited home, take a gift for home or children

    • If invited during festival, take a box of sweets

    • Jewelry item – inappropriate gift from a man to a woman

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • Indian businesses

    • Large businesses owned by families from a community

      • Parsis, Marwaris, Gujaratis, Chettiars, etc.

    • Modern operations and international norms

      • Parsi and Gujarati businesses are more modern in their workings

      • Chettiars and Marwari businesses are more conservative

    • Differences between private sector and government sector and new economy (e.g. IT)–

      • bureaucracy, speed and flexibility

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • The Business Meeting

    • Bring plenty of visiting cards

    • Interaction in English

    • If you represent a lesser known country / business get third party referrals

    • Hierarchy matters

      • Establish contact with the boss first

      • Keeps respect intact and speeds up implementation

      • Stand up and greet the boss personally when he/she enters the room

      • Uncomfortable in the presence of women executives

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • The Business Meeting

    • Relaxed negotiations

    • Small talk and personal questions to build relationships

    • Jumping to the point is seen to be rude

    • Offers of tea/coffee/snacks

    • Polychronic – deal with more than one task at one time

    • Inductive approach to understanding – be prepared for seemingly unrelated questions

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • The Business Meeting

    • Cautious about new ideas / proposals

    • Bargaining is a done thing

    • Commitment to an idea may take a while coming

  • Hospitality / Entertaining

    • Very hospitable, involve guest in minor celebrations

    • ‘agraha’ – the solicitous offer of food and drink

    • Direct refusal is impolite

    • ‘drop in any time’

    • Be alert to vegetarian guests

    • Eating with your hands / washing / rinsing after a meal

    • Business lunches are preferred to business dinners

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business culture

  • Business entertaining

    • Organized in high class five star restaurants

    • Normally over lunch – can drag on for a couple of hours

    • Toasting not common

    • Female hosts – who pays the bill?

    • 10% tip is customary

    • Arrive a few minutes (five, not more) late

  • Social Entertaining

    • Arrive 15 to 30 minutes late

    • Praise the food – this is praising the lady of the house

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • Social Entertaining

    • Don’t say ‘thank you’ at the end of the meal – considered impolite – offer to reciprocate the invitation

    • Indians do not respond to RSVPs – call and confirm

    • Guests may bring their guests – remain gracious and hospitable

    • Take off shoes before entering the house

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business culture

  • Public Behavior

    • ‘Namaskar’

    • Shake hands / Hello / Hi

    • greeting with hugs and kisses not appropriate

    • Beckoning somebody

    • Pointing a finger at someone

    • Standing erect with hands on hips

    • Chewing gum

    • Seniority, age and authority

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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Overall Business Culture

  • General

    • Feet are unclean – touching another with your feet; putting feet up on a table, etc.

    • Eye contact

    • Comfortable distance between two people

    • Ignore beggars

    • Be aware of pickpockets and swindlers

Adapted from 'Executive Planet' by M. Shukla


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