Cross-Cultural Communication

    Welcome to Asia--India


Acceptable Public Behavior

  • Greet by pressing your palms together and bow slightly. Say “Namaste” (nah-mah-stay).

  • Shake hands only when offered.

  • Do not hug or kiss.

  • Allow women to proceed first.

  • Do not point with your finger. Rather, use the hand with an upward palm.

  • Standing with hands on hips is seen as aggressive.

  • Do not whistle or wink.

  • Do not approach women who are walking alone.

  • Do not let your feet touch another person.

  • Do not maintain eye contact for long periods of time.

  • Ignore beggars.

  • Respect age and seniority.

Business Attire

  • Expectations differ across regions.

  • Men should wear a shirt (short-sleeved is acceptable) and tie.

  • Women should wear pant suits or long skirts. Skirts should cover the knees and blouses should reach high to the neck.

  • Wear neutral colors.

  • For social gatherings, wearing traditional Indian clothing it is seen as a gesture of friendship. Men would wear a kurta-pajama and women a salwar-suit.

Conversations and Networking

  • Begin business conversation with small talk.

  • Be open and friendly.

  • Discussing personal topics is common.

  • Express disagreement indirectly.

Meetings, Presentations, and Negotiation Tactics

  • For scheduling, Indians do not use time so much as people and events. Therefore, be flexible.

  • Appointments made early are helpful.

  • Appreciate the diversity of India.

  • Many businesses are family-owned.

  • Subordinates stand when superiors enter the room.

  • Meetings are very relaxed.

Dinner Etiquette

  • Refusing an invitation is rude

  • Be careful about eating meat. If there is meat at a meal, keep it separate from the vegetarian food.

  • Be aware that many Hindus fast once a week and only eat fruit.

  • Wash hands both before and after meals.

  • Do not offer food from your plate to another.

  • Business is done more at lunches than dinners.

  • 10% is a sufficient tip in most restauraunts.