December 6, 2016

When in India…

When doing business abroad, it is important to consider local customs and play by the unwritten rules of that country. While handshakes are the common form of greeting in most European countries, the Japanese, for instance, prefer a bow. Here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid such pitfalls when in India. 1. For Indian business meetings, a 5 to 15 minute delay is expected without any apology, even though the German punctuality is well known and is expected from the German side. 2. Handshake is not the only way for a formal greeting. Indians may say a warm "Hello" without any physical contact. "Namasthe", where you join two hands together at the level of your chest, is the traditional way but hardly seen at business meetings. 3. Business cards are essential and exchange of cards follows soon after the initial greeting, personally exchanged, hand to hand – the right hand specifically. The left is seen as unclean in India. This applies to all documents that are passed on. 4. Casual conversation precedes business discussions in order to reach a comfort level for negotiations. Asking about personal life is common here, and you may even get asked how much you earn. The word "no" is considered impolite, so expect to hear lots of "maybes", and avoid refusing things yourself, too. 5. Terms of Business and contracts are normally conveyed in a positive way to make the Indian partner comfortable to do business with you. 6. Indians are hospitable by nature and consider it a privilege to do business with international partners and will therefore treat you with a high level of hospitality without expectations of any reciprocation.