Being asked to find a proper synonym to India, most respondents would probably choose DIVERSITY. There is so much information about India, so many thoughts, and so many stereotypes. Business in India has been developing through centuries, and now a good deal of millennial managers and commerce and logistics specialists are Indian. A lot of websites provide information on how to negotiate in India, how to get ready for negotiations with Indian counterparts, and what Indian business etiquette exactly is. They talk much about the conservatism in dress code, which is very widespread in Indian corporations. Many of them mention the high level of the hierarchy and a kind of formalism concerning business cards and presentation materials. What I have noticed is that Indian negotiators are really business-minded, and are quite fast in decision-making, especially on minor issues appearing during the negotiation process. They are proud of their country and the achievements of Indian business system and are always ready to spend time sharing information about the history of India and cultural particularities. Sure, everyone knows the sensitivity of Indians as for Cricket and their great interest in this national sports.
What we have to know about India, except for its cultural and religious diversity and astonishing spicy food, is that being the 7th largest country in the world, it has one of the most fast-growing economies of the century with great potentials in agriculture, trade, logistics, pharmaceuticals and so on. So this country can become your next business target if it hasn’t still and you will really need a small piece of recommendations on cross-cultural negotiations in this beautiful country. Although I’ve had an experience of cooperating with Indian companies in the field of petrochemicals, logistics, transportation, and FMCG, for more impartiality I asked my friend, Mr. Hasnain M. Sukhla, a successful Indian entrepreneur based in Ukraine to help me in providing clear information about the business etiquette in India.
1. Taking into account the incredible diversity of language, culture, the religious and ethnic background of Indian people, is it possible to extract the general prototype of Indian negotiator? How would you describe him/her?
That’s a good question. Due to the cultural diversity, a general prototype would definitely be hard to extract, however on the basis of the stability and economic progress of the Indian economy locally and globally it is evident that the Indian negotiators have and are doing a great job. Some of their strong points are loyalty, hard work, courage, patience, flexibility, and professionalism.
2. What is the attitude to time in India? There is a stereotype that Indian businessmen are always late for meeting… How close is it to reality?
The general attitude is that of IST (Indian Standard Time) which could also be explained as the Indian Stretchable Time. However, in reality, that’s a misconception, it is an individual trait and could differ from person to person.
3. What is the attitude to work in India? How loyal are middle managers? What about the hierarchy in organizations?
Work is worship, and Loyalty is the key which makes the Indian managers stand aside from the rest. The hierarchical system totally depends upon the organization, and due to the wide array of Indian companies, operating presently, their systems could differ depending on their fields they are active in.
4. Are Indian negotiators mostly team or solo players? Do they prefer long negotiations or try to close the deal in minimum time and effort?
Could be a team, could be solo depending upon the project and the task at hand. Some deals could be quick, some could take longer, totally depending upon its complexity and potential.
5. What about the negotiation techniques most of the Indian negotiators use? Are they pushy and dominant or by default win-win oriented?
Difficult to generalize, and it is a case-sensitive issue. However, they definitely are patient enough, and thus result-oriented.
6. How emotional are Indian negotiators? Do they go out of control during tough negotiations? How to avoid offending Indian counterparts?
Indian negotiators are emotional but at the same time professional enough to balance their work. Respect at all given points of time would help to avoid the offense.
7. What about informal part of negotiations? Inviting Indian counterparts for dinner? Presents?
Just like any other individuals, Indians are comfortable with presents and informal meetings as it helps in developing a relaxed and healthy business atmosphere.
8. What are the most effective means of business communication: phone calls, e-mails, etc.?
Besides the existing means of communication, the personal touch makes a big difference.
9. English is the official business language in India, isn’t it? What about body language? Do Indian negotiators gesticulate much?
English definitely is the official language in India, though the accents could differ regionally. Indians for sure are warm and expressive. However, depending upon the personal style of an individual negotiator, gesticulation could also be different.
10. How ethnocentric are Indian businessmen? What is the general attitude to foreigners? Do they like to learn about other countries?
Thanks to the local diversity and traditional values, Indians in the productive sense influence their ethnocentrism to their own advantage and are extremely respectful in their attitudes to foreigners. They are always keen to learn and thus making them one of the most durable and successful partners worldwide.
If you have worked with Indian counterparts and have got an experience to share, don’t hesitate to leave your comments. I’ll appreciate it.
P.S.: Except for being a good businessman, Mr. Sukhla is also a great friend and exceptional family man. Hasnain, thank you for being this kind of person we all respect… And Happy Birthday to you!