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India and the West - Cross Cultural Issues

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A presentation that highlights the differences between India and the west, showing how Indians can successfully deal with westerners. Includes tips and watch outs.

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India and the West - Cross Cultural Issues

  1. 1. It’s a Wild West!Cross-cultural issues for Indians dealing with the West Stephen Manallack Author “Soft Skills for a Flat World” (Tata McGraw- Hill Sept 2012) Co-Author “Riding the Elephant” India Business and Communication Consultant www.manallack.com.au
  2. 2. 1. Absolute vs relativeRules & RelationshipsThe West’s single minded search forcertainty (the absolute) whereas Indiaknows life is more complex (relative) The result is…
  3. 3. Decisions and Contracts Westerners inflexible…WEST INDIARules come first Relationships firstFixed Contracts Flexible ContractsTrustworthy = sticks to it Trustworthy = adaptsInflexible “letter of law” Go with changes
  4. 4. Westerners responses: But I thought we had a contract? What do you mean you can’t make a decision right now? Didn’t you say I could have this by last Monday?
  5. 5. 2. Are you dealing with adecision-maker?The West expects the person they deal with can make a decision. The collective approach of India is different. The result is…
  6. 6. Are you dealing with adecision-maker?WEST INDIAIndividual takes charge Group decisionsResponsibility “Guru” LeadershipWork/Family separate Work is familyDirect/instant Indirect/delay
  7. 7. What this means for you Your western counterpart rarely works with extended family and sees work as work It frustrates them when decisions need to be referred back to the group Most westerners are direct and cannot understand why an Indian colleague might say “yes” instead of “no”
  8. 8. 3. Why westerners see Indiaas noisy and confrontingMany westerners feel self-control is thekey, while many Indians show emotion– followed by harmony The results is…
  9. 9. Noisy and confronting?Or that’s just how we dothings here? WEST INDIA Cover emotions Show emotions Non-physical Can be physical Cool, control Raised voices “Harmony” results
  10. 10. What this means for you Westerners uncomfortable with physical contact/ closeness Westerners concerned by disagreements Westerners shocked if asked direct personal questions or asked for help getting a job
  11. 11. 4. Can we please get tothe point!!Westerners like to tackle issues headon, while Indians choose a less directroute The result is…
  12. 12. Why the West often feelsfrustratedWEST INDIADirect Work around issues “I will try”Open on surface Closed on surfaceVery closed within Once in, very openMove on, rush Stay for dinner
  13. 13. Things different in the west “Dormitory suburbs” means less after work meetings and socialisation West thrives on certainty not the Indian response of “I will try…” Work is work, weekends are off Westerners not so status conscious
  14. 14. 5. The West is informal and challengingWesterners can judge their superiorsharshly, giving status only when it isearned. Indians more readily giverespect to the person with the title. The result is…
  15. 15. The West is informal andchallengingWEST INDIABoss is human Boss is GuruTitles rarely used Titles and formalityTechnical challenges Higher authorityMeet in offices Meet hotels, cafesOften contradict superiors Never contradict
  16. 16. How does this work? Westerners often contradict someone older or in more responsible position Quick to challenging decisions or offer criticism – expect you to be robust Less respect for status – “earn” respect
  17. 17. 6. Westerners watch thetime – the straight line ofcertainty Most westerners like to focus on one thing at a time, whereas an Indian can deal with multiple tasks The result is…
  18. 18. Westerners watch timeWEST INDIALinear CircularSingle focus Multi-focusRigid schedules FlexibleMeetings precise “India meeting”
  19. 19. Things to watch out for! Westerners often easily annoyed by cell phones They do not like you to be late Uncomfortable if your conversation includes long pauses for reflection They do not react well to distractions such as letters to sign, plus interruptions – not so good at “going with the flow” Silence is seen in the west as awkward Westerns highly scheduled, on time, rush on…
  20. 20. 7. “I want action, notharmony!!!”Westerners prefer action, even if itcauses friction. Indians generally favourharmony, even at the price of action. The result is…
  21. 21. Action or harmony?WEST INDIAIndividual in control Part of universeConvictions/action HarmonySelf, job, group Others, then selfDisturbed by change “Karma”
  22. 22. It’s a Wild West! Westerners can be blunt about your country - or about anything at all Harmony not so important – action is the thing for your western counterpart Will often criticise – does not mean to offend Less interested in agreement than in results Want regular communication from you – even if it is bad news!
  23. 23. Stephen ManallackIndia Business ConsultantAuthor Soft Skills for a Flat World(Tata McGraw-Hill, Sept 2012)Co-Author of Riding the Elephant (2010)Director, The Information Company (Aust)Phone +613 9509 3350Email stephen@manallack.com.auwww.manallack.com.au

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