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Indian Business Culture in a Congested Nation

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 business partners.

Indian Business Culture

Photo Credits: Hands -  Vivek Chugh; Dreams & Reality - Half Orc

Top 10 Indian Business Culture Tips

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.