Onsite colleagues, clients or business partners may know about when Indian holidays are happening. Especially for the most important festivals like Onam or Diwali or others depending on the region of India the offshore team sits, the American counterpart may send their wishes to you. At times these kinds of wishes may be tricky to respond to because not everyone in an office or team site in India celebrates the same holidays depending on if they are from that local area or not (for instance, a Bengali in Kerala may not celebrate Onam at home) or they do not celebrate that holiday because it is not part of their spiritual tradition. As many major holidays including Onam, Diwali, Christmas and others are celebrated in the office, American colleagues may just assume everyone in the office also celebrates this holiday on their day off. Let's look at some polite ways to acknowledge holiday wishes if it is a holiday we celebrate or one we do not.
Email from Onsite:
Hello. I know you and your team will be off for the next few days for Onam. I wish you and yours a Happy Onam.
Suggested Response #1 (Yes, you celebrate it):
Hi! It's so nice of you to send me Onam wishes! Onam is our most important holiday. I will be traveling to my native place (home town) to see my family - all of my cousins, aunts, uncles and everyone will be there! I'll be happy to tell you more about Onam when we come back to work next week!
Suggested Response #2 (No, you don't celebrate it):
Thank you so much for the wishes. I think you must have seen the video of me dancing the Onam dance! While that was a great experience for me, I am actually from a different part of India (Hyderabad) that doesn't celebrate Onam. I will be travelling home to spend some time with family. I am looking to some home cooked food and rest! Looking forward to being in touch after the holidays.
Just like responding to similar emails with Indian colleagues or clients, when responding to wishes, the key is to sound conversational and natural. Being to the point or writing responses in bullet points will give a distant or cold tone. In all cases do not ignore these emails. Do not avoid or put off responding. Responding in a warm, interactive way will build relations with your onsite colleagues.
Feel free to share more ideas of how to acknowledge or respond to holiday wishes in the comments section below.
Jennifer Kumar, author of this post helps Indian offshore teams and US onshore teams build better business interactions across global borders. Contact us for more information.