Great Article! Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for INDIA

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for India

A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z  

Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for India

It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.

This article on cultural differences in India and cultural travel tips for India is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for India tips for communicating in India, and business strategies for India to help with understanding the culture in India. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for India and tips for intercultural communication!

Cultural Tips for India – including some valuable business travel tips for India

Rapport and discussing friends and family is an important part of establishing a business relationship in India.

Conversation is considered an “art form” and people put a lot of time and effort into a discussion. However, it shouldn’t be overdone. 

Indians tend to be enthusiastic about discussing politics and religion. They enjoy opinionated conversations and don’t necessarily want to hear only bland pleasantries from a foreign guest. Just make sure you are well-informed.

Indians of all ethnic groups disapprove of public displays of affection between people of the opposite sex. Refrain from greeting people with hugs or kisses. This includes most non westernized Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians.

The traditional Indian greeting is the “namaste.” To perform the “namaste”, hold the palms of your hands together (as if praying) below the chin, nod or bow slightly, and say “namaste” (nah-mas-tay). This greeting is useful for foreigners in any circumstance in which a handshake might not be appropriate.

To beckon someone, you hold your hand out, palm downward, and make a scooping motion with the fingers. Beckoning someone with the palm up and wagging one finger, as in the United States, will often be perceived as an insult.

Pointing with you finger is considered rude. Indians prefer to point with their chin.

Feet are considered unclean, so never point your feet at another person. You will be expected to apologize whenever your shoes or feet touch another person.

Indians appreciate punctuality even though they may not always practice it themselves. Keep your schedule flexible enough for last-minute rescheduling of meetings.

Although there are still more men in senior positions, women are readily accepted in the business environment.

Take care to behave in a professional manner with male subordinates as signs of friendship or affection could be misconstrued.

The hierarchical nature of Indian society dictates that the boss is recognized as the highest individual in authority.

When establishing business contacts, aim for those in the highest position of authority since decisions are made only at this level.

Middle managers usually do not make final decisions however they do have influence. A middle manager on your side can forward a proposal. Often, they are more accessible to meet with.

In Indian business culture, perceptions of the truth tend to be guided by feelings, and a strong faith in religious ideologies is also common.

Although this is changing, the caste system remains one of the most important influences in Indian society. Technically there is equality under the law, however inequality still exists between the castes and is an accepted reality of Indian life.

Since the word “no” has negative implications in India, evasive answers are considered more polite. For example, if you must decline an invitation, it’s more acceptable to give a vague and noncommittal answer such as “I’ll try” or “We’ll see” rather than “No, I can’t.”

Business in India is highly personal. It is also conducted at a more leisurely pace than in the United States.

Hospitality is an intrinsic part of doing business in India, and most business discussions will not begin until tea is served and there has been some preliminary “small talk.”

Expect Indian negotiators to be highly skilled and often looking for a ‘bargain’.

It’s best to mask any angry or upset feelings with a smile and work through challenges in a positive fashion.

5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips

Indian traditions, culture, architecture as well as that of other countries

Families, friends and other interesting people

Food is very important, and they enjoy discussing their traditional fare

Cricket and other sports

Religion and general politics (if you know what you are talking about)

5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos

Personal matters or anything that might be considered overly intrusive

Poverty or foreign aid in India

Anything about India that you may have some unpleasant feelings towards

Feet are considered unclean, so never point your feet at someone

Pointing with your finger is considered rude

Bon Voyage!

Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for INDONESIA!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

Watch the ‘Say Anything-5 Keys’ Video

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The CROSS of Cross-Cultural

Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Leadership Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customizedtraining programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communication, Cultural Diversity, Customer Service, Leadership Coaching, Presentation Skills, Sales Negotiations, Stress Management, Team building, and Time Management Training.

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