With 28 states and 7 union territories, 325 languages with 1,652 dialects and with 18 official languages, India is a country as diverse as the vast species of flora and fauna existing on earth today. Though the culture in India varies from state to state and region to region, few common traits inherent in every Indian give rise to a very unique culture. The different festivals, folk dances, food, music, architecture, beliefs, customs, traditions and values all constitute the culture of India to which Indians very religiously abide by. So, if you are planning to do business in a multifarious and complex country like India then you must keep in mind some basic cultural differences (in business context) which forms the substratum of Indian society:
* Indians follow a very strict hierarchy, be it in a family or in a business. The parents are the boss languages and the western words children follow their advice and respect them. Similarly, in an organisation the employees in lower hierarchy are not very open to their superiors.a
* Indians use Namaste and handshake as a form of greeting. At some places, shaking hands with a woman might not be acceptable, however with time this trend has changed. Always greet the most senior person first.
* Building relationships is very critical to earn the credibility of your partner in doing business by indicating resilient business acumen and at a personal level because Indians do business only with people they know and trust.
* Be open to social interactions; relations built only on mails or telephonic conversations do not work well with Indians.
* Make sure your business never interferes with their core beliefs, customs and traditions. Never organise meetings on national and festive holidays. Plan them well in advance and inform about it in writing to everyone individually.
* Indians are quite flexible with time and a little delay is generally acceptable.
* For Indians, family responsibilities take priority over business
* Final decisions are always made by the head of the company. Hence, ensure that any business dealings are approved by the senior most person in the company.
* In Indian culture saying ‘no’ is seen as a sign of disrespect and offensiveness. Therefore, if they use phrases like ‘We’ll see’, ‘We’ll try our best’, etc. then probability of negative outcome increases Indians use more indirect form of communication.
* Unlike western culture, openness in Indian culture is lacking.
* As aforementioned, Indians will not trust you easily and so they favor deep and intricate discussions.
* If you straight away talk to them about business, they might take it in an unpleasant way. They would initially like to know the person on a personal level and then proceed with business.
These are very general points that one should normally keep in mind while doing business in India. They may differ from company to company and may not stand true in every aspect. But at large, paying heed to these points can benefit you a lot.