September 12, 2018

"Ok" & "Yes" Communicate Commitment to Americans

Be careful when saying OK or YES to an American.Americans do not really know what Indians mean when they say 'ok' and 'yes' in conversation. When Americans hear 'ok' and 'yes,' they think the Indian team members are:
  • Agreeing to do something
  • Saying YES to their question or request 
  • Agreeing with their methodology
  • Agreeing to whatever they are talking about, including setting deadlines, resources allocation, or other project planning details
  • Ready to do whatever they are asking / talking about
While sometimes this is true, often it is not. American counterparts reading this, note that Indians often say 'ok' and 'yes' to acknowledge that they are listening, similar to American's use of "uh-huh" and "mmm-hummm"). As most conversations with distributed teams take place over the phone, "ok" and "yes" could be used more than in face to face conversations where "ok" and "yes" may be combined with the "Indian head nod." 

In training programs, I help Indian developers, managers and team members realize if they overindulge in saying 'ok' and 'yes,' while helping them to respond more assertively and politely - regardless if they want to actually say yes, no or partially agree with you. 

Some examples may include: 

For example, rather than just saying "yes" or "ok," explain what you are saying "yes" or "ok" to.
US manager David asks, "Can you finish this by Friday."
Old answer: "Ok" 
New answer: "Yes, David, we will finish (project/task name) by this Friday."

However, if you really want to say yes to part of what they are saying and no to another, that's a different skill.
US manager David asks, "Can you finish this by Friday."
Old answer: "Ok"
New answer: "Yes, David, while we can finish three key elements of this by Friday, can we discuss the remaining two elements to prioritize the work according to your delivery schedule?"

Simply saying "ok" would tell the American that you are ready and able to finish everything on time, and that you have no questions, objections or feedback.

Even if you can do everything by Friday, "ok" really is not a good answer because it doesn't inspire a conversation. Remember you are working WITH your US counterpart not just FOR. ("With" is a two way give and take, where as "for" is a one-way, directive interaction.")

While these tips apply to native speakers of English in Canada, the UK, and Australia as well, the good news is that improving vocabulary with US Americans is easy because simple English is required. Don't worry about using fancy, long vocabulary words. The simpler and more descriptive your English is, the more personality it has, and the more convincing it can be.

For more ideas on words to avoid and replace while giving simple answers to questions, watch the video below.

Jennifer Kumar helps enthusiastic Indian team members to communicate confidently across cultural borders in business. Contact us for more information. 

Related Posts: 
Asking questions to encourage conversation 
What Happens if I Interrupt?  
Advice on Saying "No"  
When Yes Doesn't Mean Yes 

Copyright 2014, Authentic Journeys. Do not reprint any text on this page without prior approval. 

August 30, 2018

Why Doesn’t My American Colleague Answer the Phone?

Frustrated when Americans don't answer your call?Reaching an American colleague by phone without a pre-determined appointment may be a challenge for some. Getting one’s voice mail when calling them outside of regularly scheduled phone meetings may be a normal response. 

And, from what I hear, when many Indians get the voice mail, they just hang up. This is not always the best answer to the situation. Voice mails are very important to the communication flow in an American office. So, why are voice mails so important

Americans Do Not Answer Calls During Meetings  
Typically, in the U.S., answering the phone while in meetings or in conversations with others is considered bad manners. An American would feel ‘interrupted’ if another colleague took a call when he’s in a meeting with that person. So, during meetings and other busy times of the day, many Americans let their ‘phone go to voicemail’. They may even turn the ringer off so that they don’t hear the phone ring!

To some in India, this is considered strange, or even rude from what I have experienced. I have noticed that in India, taking calls during meetings is normal in many circumstances. The main reason for this is that there is no voice mail facility. Even if it is available in India, it is rarely, if ever used. This means that a missed call is truly a missed call. To avoid missing the call, interruptions from calls and texts are a common occurrence during some meetings in Indian companies.

August 3, 2018

"Leave Days" for Americans in 2019

U.S. Holiday Planner 2019
If you work on an international software team or on an offshore development team with American colleagues or clients, this post will act as a helpful guide to "off days" in many American offices. 

While this calendar is helpful, and will link to information about the holidays (how and why it's celebrated, greetings, and small talk topics), it's always helpful to request a holiday list from your counterparts as not all companies will observe all holidays listed here, they may have floating holidays, or regional holidays that may not be listed here. 

Days Off in 2019

When is .....  January 2019?
1 - New Year’s Day
15 Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday 

When is .....  February 2019?
Groundhog’s Day
4 - First Sunday- Superbowl (American Football Championship)
14 – Valentine’s Day
19 - President's Day (Third Monday) / Mid-winter break

When is ..... March 2019
All Month - March Madness
5 - Mardi Gras (New Orleans)
10 - Start of Daylight Saving Time  (Second Sunday of March) 
14  – Palm Sunday 
17 – St. Patrick’s Day Observation
19 - Good Friday
19 - Patriots' Day (Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin) * May be a floating Monday holiday
20-21 - Purim 
31 - Cesar Chavez Day (Observed in varying degrees in 10 states, see here.)

When is .....  April 2019
1 - April Fool’s Day
15 – Tax Day USA 
21 - Easter
19-27 - Passover
22 – Earth Day

When is .....  May 2019
1 - May Day
1-2 - Yom HaShoah
5 - Cinco De Mayo
12 – Mother’s Day (second Monday)
27 – Memorial Day  (last Monday in May)
May mid to June end- school ends USA

When is .....  June 2019?
Throughout June - Graduation Season USA - Dads & Grads
14 - Flag Day
16 – Father’s Day (3rd Sunday) (What is dads and grads season?)

When is ..... July 2019
4 - Independence Day (USA):  Greetings | Dress Code |  Going to the Park
July mid- September - "Back to School Season" School starts USA  
24 - Pioneer Day (Utah only)  

When is .....  August 2019
10-11 - Tisha B'Av

When is .....  September 2019?
2 Labor Day (USA) (First Monday)
11 – Patriot Day (USA
29 - Oct 1- Rosh Hashanah

When is .....  October 2019
8-9 - Yom Kippur
4-11 - Sukkot

– Columbus Day (2nd Monday)
31 – Halloween    Small Talk Tips

When is .....  November 2019?
1st Sunday 2am, (3rd Nov) End of Daylight Saving Time 
1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday, US Election Day
8 – Veterans Day
28 – Thanksgiving (USA)  (4th Thursday) 
29 Black Friday (Always the day after Thanksgiving, or the 4th Friday) 
29 - Family Day (Always the day after Thanksgiving, or the 4th Friday)

When is .....  December 2019?
22-30 - Chanukah/Hanukkah  
24 – Christmas&nsbsp;Eve
25 – Christmas Day
26 – Jan 1 – Kwanzaa
29 – New Year’s Eve

Thank you for spending your time on the Authentic Journeys blog.

Authentic Journeys provides cross-cultural business consulting and training for your cross-border software teams. Contact us to get started today!

July 5, 2018

6 Steps to Add Training to LinkedIn

Display your professional development on LinkedIn.
Are you one of the almost 4,000 professionals who have attended a workshop, training program or coaching session through Authentic Journeys? 

If yes, do you want to display this on your LinkedIn profile? 

It is simple and easy in 6 steps. You can also add your certificate to your profile. If you did not get a certificate or do not have a digital certificate, contact us, we can send one to you! 

6 easy steps (with images) to Spruce Up Your LinkedIn Profile: 

Step 1: 
On your LinkedIn profile, go to the Education section > Click the plus sign to the right of the header to add something.

Display your cross cultural training on LinkedIn.

Step 2: 
Type in School Name as “Authentic Journeys” (Infopark should also display in small letters below it.)

Step 3 : 
In the “Field of Study” field, type in the name of your program. (ie. Business Etiquette in the U.S.. The title will be on your certificate. If you do not have a certificate, feel free to ask us.)

Display your career building classes on LinkedIn.

Step 4: 
Enter Year (optional)

Step 5: 
Course Description. This is optional. We will provide it to you OR if you don’t have it, get in touch with us to get a course description.

Display your corporate training certificates on LinkedIn.

Step 6: Media. Add your certificate PDF here.

Display your corporate training certificates on LinkedIn.

Feel free to follow our School Page on LinkedIn for updates and to see alumni.  

Authentic Journeys is a corporate training firm focusing on providing culture awareness training to those working between cultures with focus on India and the U.S. We have provided India Cultural Training and American Business Offshore Training Programs to over 4,000 professionals such as you since 2009.

**Note the image of a certificate shown is not of an actual learner. This is to protect the confidentiality of learners. Feel free to visit the LinkedIn School Page to see interested professional connections.

June 28, 2018

American Sports: What is Baseball?

The "Louieville Slugger" - Baseball in the US
As the weather in the United States warms in late May, baseball becomes a popular topic of conversation.  Summer and baseball are a perfect marriage.  So, if you are soon to engage an American in conversation, a timely subject would be baseball and the World Series. 

1. What is the World Series?

The World Series is the annual championship for Major League Baseball.  The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy.

2.  When is the World Series? 
October of each year. 

3.  Why is it called the World Series? 

Authentic Journeys: Work Effectively With Americans

Do you work with Americans on a global, virtual team? At Authentic Journeys we help you build your context with American business culture when you work with Americans from outside the U.S.A. Follow our blog our get in touch with us for live, in-person online training programs to increase your business acumen with Americans today!