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Doing Business in India -Business Culture

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Doing Business in India
India is a richly diverse and complex country. Regionalism, religion, language and status are all factors that need to be taken into account when doing business in India. Behaviour, etiquette and approach are all modified depending on whom you are addressing and the context in which they are being addressed. By tailoring your behaviour and approach to doing business in India you maximise the potential of your visit.

Indian Society and Culture
Language

Different states in India each have different official languages. Central government only recognises Hindi as the official language of India. However, when doing business in India, English is the language of international commerce.
Hierarchy
* Indians are always conscious of social order and their status relative to other people, be they family, friends, or strangers. * All relationships involve hierarchies. The boss is seen as the source of ultimate responsibility in business. Every relationship has a clear- cut hierarchy that must be observed for the social order to be maintained.
The Role of the Family * People typically define themselves by the groups to which they belong rather than by their status as individuals. Someone is deemed to be affiliated to a specific state, region, city, family, career path, religion, etc. * Indians maintain very close family relationships. The extended family creates countless interrelationships, rules, and structures. Along with these mutual obligations comes a deep-rooted trust among relatives. * Family responsibilities take precedence over business so last minute cancellations are possible when doing business.
Just Can't Say No * Indians do not like to express “no” -verbally or non- verbally –nor do they like to disappoint * Since they do not like to give negative answers, Indians may give an affirmative answer but be deliberately vague about any specific details. This will require you to look for non-verbal cues, such as a reluctance to commit to an actual time for a meeting or an enthusiastic response.

Meeting Etiquette * Religion, education and social class all influence greetings in India. * This is a hierarchical culture, so greet the eldest or most senior person first. * When leaving a group, each person must be bid farewell individually. * Shaking hands is common, especially in the large cities among the more educated who are accustomed to dealing with westerners. * Men may shake hands with other men and women may shake hands with other women; however there are seldom handshakes between men and women because of religious beliefs. If you are uncertain, wait for them to extend their hand.
Gift Giving Etiquette * Indians believe that giving gifts eases the transition into the next life. * Gifts of cash are given to friends and members of the extended family to celebrate life events such as birth, death and marriage. * It is not the value of the gift, but the sincerity with which it is given, that is important to the recipient. * If invited to an Indian's home for a meal, it is not necessary to bring a gift, although one will not be turned down. * Do not give frangipani or white flowers as they are used at funerals. * Yellow, green and red are lucky colours, so try to use them to wrap gifts. * A gift from a man should be said to come from both he and his wife/mother/sister or some other female relative. * Hindus should not be given gifts made of leather. * Muslims should not be given gifts made of pigskin or alcoholic products. * Gifts are not opened when received.
Dining Etiquette * Indians will entertain in their homes, restaurants, private clubs, or other public venues * Although Indians are not always punctual themselves, they expect foreigners to arrive close to the appointed time. * Take off your shoes before entering the house. * Dress modestly and conservatively. * Politely turn down the first offer of tea, coffee, or snacks. You will be asked again and again. Saying no to the first invitation is part of the protocol. * Hindus do not eat beef and many are vegetarians. * Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol. * Sikhs do not eat beef. * Lamb, chicken, and fish are the most commonly served main courses for non-vegetarian meals as they avoid the meat restrictions of the religious groups.

Table manners * Much Indian food is eaten with the fingers. * Wait to be told where to sit. * Guests are often served in a particular order: the guest of honour is served first, followed by the men, and the children are served last. Women typically serve the men and eat later. * Always use your right hand to eat. * Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are satisfied. Finishing all your food means that you are still hungry.

Business Etiquette and Protocol
Relationships & Communication * Indians prefer to do business with those they know. * Relationships are built upon mutual trust and respect. * In general, Indians prefer to have long-standing personal relationships prior to doing business. * It may be a good idea to go through a third party introduction. This gives you immediate credibility.

Business Meeting Etiquette * If you will be travelling to India from abroad, it is advisable to make appointments by letter, at least one month and preferably two months in advance. * It is a good idea to confirm your appointment as they do get cancelled at short notice. * The best time for a meeting is late morning or early afternoon. Reconfirm your meeting the week before and call again that morning, since it is common for meetings to be cancelled at the last minute. * Keep your schedule flexible so that it can be adjusted for last minute rescheduling of meetings. * You should arrive at meetings on time since Indians are impressed with punctuality. * Meetings will start with a great deal of getting-to- know-you talk. In fact, it is quite possible that no business will be discussed at the first meeting. * Always send a detailed agenda in advance. Send back-up materials and charts and other data as well. This allows everyone to review and become comfortable with the material prior to the meeting. * Follow up a meeting with an overview of what was discussed and the next steps.
Business Negotiating * Indians are non-confrontational. It is rare for them to overtly disagree, although this is beginning to change in the managerial ranks. * Decisions are reached by the person with the most authority. * Decision making is a slow process. * If you lose your temper you lose face and prove you are unworthy of respect and trust. * Delays are to be expected, especially when dealing with the government. * Most Indians expect concessions in both price and terms. It is acceptable to expect concessions in return for those you grant. * Never appear overly legalistic during negotiations. In general, Indians do not trust the legal system and someone's word is sufficient to reach an agreement. * Do not disagree publicly with members of your negotiating team. * Indians do not base their business decisions solely on statistics, empirical data and exciting PowerPoint presentations. They use intuition, feeling and faith to guide them. Always exercise patience, show good character and never exhibit frustration or anger. * Successful negotiations are often celebrated by a meal.

Dress Etiquette * Business attire is conservative. * Men should wear dark coloured conservative business suits. * Women should dress conservatively in suits or dresses.
Titles
* Indians revere titles such as Professor, Doctor and Engineer. * Status is determined by age, university degree, status and profession. * If someone does not have a professional title, use the honorific title "Sir" or "Madam". * Titles are used with the person's name or the surname, depending upon the person's name. * Wait to be invited before using someone's first name without the title.

Business Cards * Business cards are exchanged after the initial handshake and greeting. * If you have a university degree or any honour, put it on your business card. * Use the right hand to give and receive business cards. * Business cards don’t need to be translated into Hindi. Although, it is a good idea to have it translated on one side into Hindi, more as a sign of respect as opposed to linguistic necessity. * Always present your business card so the recipient may read the card as it is handed to them. * Make sure the card is put away respectfully and not simply pushed into a pant pocket.…...

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