Doing business in India
Read important tips about doing business in India here.
Getting to know each other
Greeting a potential business partner in India is not the same as it is in the UK where we are used to shaking each other’s hand. When you meet someone, you place the palms of your hands together in front of your chest and bow slightly, saying ‘namaste’.
On meeting someone for the first time, it is not compulsory to bring a gift, but it will be received with pleasure if you do decide to bring something, in which case, bring something simple like chocolate or flowers (but not white in either case). Bear in mind that your gift will not be opened in the presence of company.
It is not the custom to talk about business at a first meeting but rather about family and education, etc. When it is finally time for negotiations, aggressive sales techniques should best be avoided; they won’t be appreciated. Decisions are not made immediately either, and are communicated later.
A direct ‘no’ in answer to a question is regarded as impolite in India. Try to avoid such an answer by rewording it more neutrally, like, ‘I will try’. Similarly, the person you are dealing with in India won’t say no either. What can happen is that there is a gesture that is something between a nod and a shaking of the head. You can then be sure that the answer is ‘no’, whatever else might be said. Other gestures which we might consider as perfectly normal are regarded as impolite in India, so you should just try and make as few as possible in order to be on the safe side. Whatever you do, do everything with your right hand because the left hand is regarded as unclean. Furthermore, it is unnecessary to thank anyone for a meal because it may be regarded as an insult.
There are a great many different languages in each of India’s many regions. Hindi is, however, the primary official language while English is primarily used by government and in the business world. It is therefore a good idea to find out what language the person you will be dealing with uses. You can then have your business card translated into that language. Despite this recommendation, you can usually communicate in English. Official papers often have to be presented in English. This is an area in which we will be happy to help you if English is not your, or your company’s first language. We only work with experienced, professional translators who are native speakers of the target language. Furthermore, we select the right specialist for every project so that, for instance, the correct terminology is applied.
Marleen van Dijk
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