Indirect Communication Gets the Job Done in India!

Posted On: September 14, 2013

Indirect communication in India can get seemingly impossible jobs done overnight!  

The proof is in the photo and story detailed below.  

The scene of the photo shows a makeshift ‘tree’ with the Malayalam sign is planted in a very deep, but small, pothole. The sign says, “Onam Greetings from Infopark Auto Labours. We welcome Maveli to this way” (Thank you, Facebook friends for translating.) The remaining scenery includes cars driving on this road, and cars parked along side this road. This road is the main entrance to the Kochi (Kakkanad) Infopark. Literally, thousands of vehicles (bikes, motorcycles, cars, busses, trucks, autos, foot traffic) travel on this road on any given day. Though the photo doesn’t show it clearly, the road is pothole ridden. Anyone who goes up and down this road could easily exclaim, “They call this a road?! There is no road here….”  Going up and down this road a few times a day, I can proclaim that it is not easy travel for vehicles or people in the vehicles as well! 

Complaining directly to the road repair men or those in charge of doing these jobs may not get anything done. Most of the requests or demands would come up empty! However, create an indirect message and pair it with an emotional event (in this case the event of Onam, the main holiday of Keralites), and the results are almost instantaneous!

The potholes which donned this road for the past three to four months, are now beginning to see some cover. The very next day after seeing this sign, I saw the road crew outside filling in the potholes with rocks and stones. The road is better to travel on now, though it does still need a coat of tar or something else to seal in the stones, so the rain doesn’t come and wash it away. 

The sign says, "Onam Greetings from Infopark Auto Labours. We welcome Maveli to this way"

To start this article, I mentioned that proof of the power of indirect communication is demonstrated in this post. Ironically, my assessment of this situation may not be 100% correct! I also found out there’s a Kerala big wig coming to Infopark a few days after Onam. This goes to show, that whether it’s Mahveli (The Kerala King of long ago) or a big wig (a modern day King of Kerala), things ALSO have the ability to get done when there is someone of considerable influence involved. This is a perfect example of how no cultural variable happens in isolation. 

Jennifer Kumar is a US citizen who has lived in India for 10 years. She is a coach and trainer helping Indians to bridge the cultural and communication gap while working with Americans. Learning about cultural variables and values and how they influence the corporate culture is an integral part of the US Cross-Cultural training. 

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