October 13, 2014

Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings in US India Business Relationships

Forming relationships between cultures is rewarding, and at the same time, challenging. Often times, going into another culture as an adult, we have to put all our assumptions aside about how the world works, because it will work very or totally different in that other country! The videos below tell the story of an American business man going to India to close a business deal. Throughout the story, notice the cross-cultural mistakes, dos and don'ts and bridges created in this process. 

Americans may feel that Indians…. Indians may feel Americans…
Spend too much time on small talk

Are too business like and not approachable because of abbreviated small talk
Expose personal and intrusive information in small talk (family, relationships) with people they barely know.

Are cold, and unfeeling because they don’t talk about family at work with those they do not know very well.
Are reluctant to talk because they don’t say yes or no directly or in a way they understand. Or, that Indians tend to say 'ok' to everything, and Americans do not know what they are saying OK to.

Want instant gratification all the time because they may not want to talk about family and build relationships through personalized small talk.

Over involve their family in business interactions and decisions (even family members who do not work at the company are considered in some decision making). Think only about themselves as they rarely involve their family in business decision making. (Large separation between work life and personal life.)




Questions to Ponder (share your answers in the comment section below):

  1. What are your impressions about these videos?
  2. What stories or lessons do you have to share in doing business between the US and India? 
  3. How can these lessons apply to face-to-face interactions as well as virtual interactions over the phone or via email? 

Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director of Authentic Journeys, helps your teams bridge cultural gaps while working from two or more shores to build better relations via virtual or in-person interactions. Contact her today for more information.

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