Indian Business culture is a complex topic. As a country, India has sent satellites
into space but it takes days to get your land line phone fixed. To the foreigner
doing business with Indians, all the priorities don't seem to make sense. Patience
and acceptance are virtues for the foreigner doing business in India. You'll have
a different set of rules to go by when you have business dinner with your Indian
Don't Touch Me - Indians do not engage in body contact or public displays of affection.
They greet one another using Namaste, a multi-purpose gesture using folded hands.
This is done by placing the palms together with finger tips pointed towards the
chin. The head also nods at the same time. Even western hand shaking especially
with an Indian woman is not acceptable behavior. So, please. Don't touch.
Watch Your Language - Swearing or using foul language is considered a very bad public
behavior. Indians will get up and leave a meeting or worse yet, not do business
with you. Be extra conservative. Even words that border on bad language in western
cultures (darn, damn it), don't use them.
No Drinking Allowed - In the western world, happy hour and an alcoholic beverage
is a way to relax after work. However, there are "dry" days in India where you cannot
consume any kind of alcohol. Sometimes national mourning days are declared as "dry"
days. So you will need to be aware of your surroundings.
Conservatism Only - Indians as a society are quite conservative in nature. Keep
your business relationship as official business. Joking, winking and other light
hearted behavior may be fine in a western office but you might as well keep it as
officially business while you are in India.
Everyone Bargains In India - The Indians expect you to bargain while you are shopping
in India. It is a cultural phenomenon. As a result, expect the Indian negotiators
to be sharp at the negotiating table when they come to do business with you.
Don't Call Me Bob - Indians do not use first names in a business setting. So do
not call an Indian business associate by his or her 1st name. It’s Mr. or Ms. Swami.
Extended families - Extended families play a major role in Indian society and in
Indian business. Unlike westerners who make it on their own with their immediate
families, Indians reach for their extended families. Do not be surprised if your
potential business offer was given to someone's 6th cousin.
Age Equals wisdom - The elderly is honored and considered wise in India. It is not
uncommon for young business men and women to ask their parents or grand parents for
advice prior to making major business decisions.
Take Care Of the Elderly - In Indian culture, it is expected that elder sons to take
care of the elderly. It is very common to have several generations of families living
under one roof.
Abide By Hierarchy Rules - Businesses in India follow and respect corporate hierarchy.
Those in position of power also tend to keep their distance.
Indian Business Culture - Be on Your Best Behavior
Indian Business culture has multiple influences from family values to respecting
the elders. All these cultural behaviors interact to form and shape how Indians
act and think in a business environment. It is also a reminder for those planning
to do business in India to be on their best behavior until they are sure what is
expected of them.