Do you ever feel that you’re running against time because meetings get extended without warning?
Or, are clients requesting meeting extensions while you are confident that the messages have been communicated?
Recently, a participant in a training session shared with me that the US counterparts are extending meetings without asking for permission. After sharing that, I was asked,
This question is not easy to answer because it could depend on many things. Firstly, why does the US Client think they need more time?
Reasons Clients May Want to Extend Meeting Times
Typically, the US client would also not want to extend the meeting. They also have other meetings to get to. Naturally, they also would feel irritated or anxious to get back to their work. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes.
What compels a client to need more time to meet?
Again, as you brainstorm this based on your team requirements and make-up, you may come up with many good ideas. In addition to these ideas, is anyone on your team willing or brave enough to ask the US client why* they are asking meetings to be extended?
Americans like direct communication, and a question like this if posed right can open discussion as to how both sides can communicate more clearly with each other.
Other Team Consultations Have Shown
In teams I have consulted in, a common reason clients ask for (or seem to demand) more time, is that they feel that the messages haven’t been communicated fully yet. Though the Indian team has talked a lot and given a lot of information, the following problems happen in delivering the information:
Sometimes, the US clients verbalize their frustration or confusion by saying:
This meeting is all over the place.
The phrase “all over the place” is not one the India team wants to hear. If you have heard this phrase being used in relation to your team, it is not a good thing. Listen to more in the tutorial below.
Jennifer’s coaching helped reduce my time participating in escalations by 80%. She provided skills and coaching to help my development team build relationships with their US counterparts so they could speak confidently with them in daily status updates as well as during difficult conversations. As they built their communication skills and confidence, I was called in less and less to handle escalations. Previously, I was called in to manage even the simplest escalations, now I am called in to handle only very high level conversations and escalations. I’m impressed about how the coaching process has not only built confidence in my team in communicating in professional, global business English, but in handling a wide range of client interactions. Due to this, I have more time on my hands to build the team and our business as a whole. Thank you! ~Delivery Manager at a Fortune 500 company
A Possible Solution for Indian Teams
One solution the Indian team can take is to improve meeting preparation skills. All of the problems listed above in the bulleted point list can be taken into consideration here. Teams can identify all of their weaknesses in meeting etiquette, prioritize the most important ones and learn to build their skills in these areas.
Over the course time, this would naturally solve the problem of US clients asking/demanding more meeting time, naturally.
*Take note that we should avoid asking questions with “why” and “you” in the same question, as questions posed this way make the other defensive and closed to communication.
While some teams can do this process on their own, others need a facilitator. Jennifer Kumar, author of this article is a facilitator and corporate coach helping Indians to better communicate with their US counterparts. A native born American citizen, Jennifer can help your teams dig into the American mind to find holistic and comprehensive solutions to your cross-cultural communication challenges.
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Networked blogs link: http://networkedblogs.com/TCpRq