9 Differences: India & US Culture

One of the main reasons professionals opt for cross cultural training is to understand what differences exist between their culture and the host country so as to avoid misstep, offending the other person, and to be able to relate with their international business associates in a culturally sensitive way. Not only does this help everyone feel more comfortable, but it can help with understanding different people's motivation, business acumen, strategy and negotiation tactics.

To end a recent session on US cross-culture training for virtual teams, we discussed differences between the US and Indian work cultures. Below are some of the differences the participants noted between the cultures:

American culture and Indian cultures are different when it comes to:
  1. Time management. Americans prefer things in a linear way.
  2. Personal & Professional Small Talk - acceptable topics of discussion are different in professional settings in the US and in India.
  3. Starting "on time" (For a 9 o'clock meeting, 9:15 is too late to start with Americans, but starting as late as 9:30 is more acceptable for Indians.)
  4. Showing their feelings at work. Americans are better at hiding their feelings at work. Indians will show their feelings on their face.
  5. Asking for reasons. "Why you" questions should be avoided with Americans.
  6. Gestures and expressions. Some that are acceptable in India may be offensive in the US., and some that are acceptable in the U.S. may be offensive in India.
  7. Quality control. Lack of quality is a serious flaw in the U.S., where as in India it's seen in a more lenient light
  8. Being on time. Americans are strict and give more value to punctuality.
  9. Asking questions. Americans prefer people to ask questions. Indians may find asking questions rude.
While there are many differences, there are also many similarities. In uncovering some of the differences and similarities, we use mock situations, role plays and funny stories to highlight how to overcome culture differences to be more confident when working with Americans from India.

Jennifer Kumar is the Managing Director and facilitator for US cross-cultural trainings that have been attended by over 2,000 professionals in India. Learn more about the US cross-cultural training for virtual teams or contact us for for training options for your dispersed and offshore teams today.

Related Posts:
When to apologize to an American
Managing Meetings with American Clients 
How Indians View Time 

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