According to The New York Times, the number of U.S. citizens who applied for visas to work in India nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010. The New York Times also reports that the number of foreigners doing business in India has increased dramatically in recent years. If you’re one of the many people who will be relocating to India for business in the near future, you may be wondering about cultural differences in Indian business and what you need to do to adjust to them.
Here are four business etiquette tips you’ll find to be useful as you adjust to working in India:
1. Don’t expect all meetings to start on time
In the Indian business world, meetings don’t always start when they’re supposed to. Sometimes they’ll start ten or fifteen or even thirty minutes later than anticipated. Indian business culture is a little more flexible in terms of punctuality than Western business culture. So, you’ll need to adjust to a more flexible schedule while you’re working in India.
2. Dress professionally
If you’re a man who’s used to wearing a suit and tie or a woman who’s used to wearing business attire, you’ll fit in at business offices in India, where professional clothes are the norm. Keep in mind that sometimes it is permissible for men to dress down during India’s warmest months and wear lighter clothing. If you’re just starting out in India, however, it’s best to wear ordinary professional clothes until you get a feel for what kind of attire is appropriate, based on geographical location and industry.
3. Think before you shake hands
You should not extend your hand to a woman and solicit her handshake. Instead, you should wait for her to solicit a handshake from you. Indian women don’t shake hands very often. When they do, it has to be their choice. Additionally, you should avoid offering your left hand when meeting someone. The left hand is considered dirty by many of the people who live in India.
4. Avoid being overly-assertive
Aggressiveness is frowned upon, and politeness is highly valued in Indian business culture. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to let people walk all over you. It just means that you should make a conscious effort to be respectful during all business-related interactions, avoid raising your voice, and avoid focusing too much on competition at your workplace.
Adjusting to cultural differences in the Indian business world probably won’t require too much effort on your part. You’ll have a relatively smooth transition if you follow the tips above and do your best to be as respectful as possible to each and every one of your business associates.
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