10 things to consider when doing business in India

  • June 9, 2017
  • Cassandra Steinlein

When we work in a company and we are doing business abroad, interculturality is an essential element that should be taken into account. Indeed, it can be crucial when we make deals, and it is something that should not be neglected. Here are advices for those who would like to try business in India.

1- Don’t be scared to talk about your personal life

In India, there is no boundary between your private and professional lives. So, during professional exchanges, the priority is human relation, that is to say being more interested by the family of the speaker in front of you than by what you are going to ask. You can ask informations about his wife, or his home, for example.

2- Care about the way they work

In a company, orders are always followed, with objectivity, and often, in a mechanical way, which can create problems when you have to remotely manage. If things does not happen like it was supposed to, indians will not warn the manager or make a report. It is better, then, to keep a certain kind of contact by phone, and begin every call in an informal way before talking about business, or it will convey a feeling of control and monitoring, that is not really liked.

Indians constantly work in team. Every task is shared between some employees. It is, thus, very hard to keep an information secret, because it is always discovered whatever happen. Moreover, they will never try to meet the manager when they did not understand the issues of a task or when they can not handle it. They would rather get around the problem.

3- They don’t know how to say “no”

Indians have a lot of difficulties to say “no”. They would rather avoid it or say “yes” instead of refusing directly. It is then essential see some signs showing a negative thought, like the attitude or the behaviour ( such as legs crossed, discomfort….)

4- Always be patient

Patience is necessary when we work with indians. Reunions may begin later than expected, and the participants can be late. However, foreigners must be punctual.

Moreover, when deals are made, it can take weeks, even months, to think about the decision. It is, therefore, very important to be patient and avoid to push them to be faster.

5- Do not use your left hand

When we give files or a business card, or even while shaking hands, we must use right hand whatever happen. Otherwise, indians can refuse to take what is given to them, as the left hand is seen as a dirty hand. It is the same when we give money with the left hand. Indians can then refuse to sell anything.

6-Pay attention to scams

When you negociate in India, we must be very careful as european people. When they see someone with white skin wearing occidental clothes, they associate that person to wealth, and are tending to double, or triple their prices.

7- Dress up correctly

Formal clothes are necessary. Men can wear a shirt, a trouser and a hat. In a company, it is better to wear a suit and a tie. However, for special occasions, they can wear indian traditional clothes, such as Kurta.

For women, it is an important matter to avoid showing their shoulders or their legs, which is not well-seen. Skirts, dresses, and tight clothes should be avoided. They can wear shirt, trousers, or some indian traditional clothes, as Sari or Salwar Kameez.

8- Care for your presentation

Despite the need to be dressed formally, it is important as well to control your image in front of indians. Some habits must be respected, without risking to vex the indian with whom you are talking and be seen as a boorish person. For example, it is better to wait until an indian give you his hand and shake yours. Sometimes, they rather join their hands and say “namaste”. However, if you are a woman, you always need to do the first step.

9- Pay attention to the style of communication

Physical distance is shorter in India than in any european country (around one meter, or a little bit more). Indians are often very close to a person with whom they have already talked or that they already know.

Moreover, it is necessary to remember that visual contact is primordial when we want to show respect to someone with higher ranks. Howerver, employees have difficulties to do so.

It is better to avoid touching the person with whom you are talking, except if you know that person quite well. Aged people could be shocked to see this because we are not hindus. It is worst to do so to a woman, as it is considered as sexual proposals, and it will make her very unease.

10- Show interests for the culture

Showing a true interest for indian culture can be a great advantage when doing business there. It will make them respect you and arouse curiosity. It will help you to know more about your environnment as wel, which can not be neglected.



Cassandra Steinlein - Author

Namaste ! My name is Cassandra Steinlein, the happy writer of the articles you can see on this site. I am 19, and i am studying management in order to become a manager assistant. The world of business is therefore my domain.
Of course, i am french, and i lived in France since the beginning. I would not say it is a misfortune for me, but i would have prefered to discover the world, as i am extremely curious and adventurous.
I have always been passionned by literature that I studied for two years in high school, and I aim to be a writer soon or later. Reading and writing have always had a soothing effect on me. Thus, writing articles is an interesting and inspiring training for me.
I have a pretty peculiar link with India. I fell in love with this country long ago, and it really inspires me. I do not know what attracts me the most there, whether it is the culture that is extremely rich or people, but I always had the creepy feeling that it is my home, and that my future is there.
This link appeared during my childhood. Everything began when I saw a documentary about the Taj Mahal, then a Bollywood movie that I can not remember the name. I immediately wanted to know more about India. Over the years, my fascination for this country increased, until I decided to learn hindi, and that I tend to « indianize » the way I am. Today, i like to think that India is a goal I need to reach, a dream to achieve, and that I have to go there as soon as possible.

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