Tips for Communicating with an Indian Company via Telephone/Internet
Many people need to deal with Indian partners, colleagues or clients by phone, e-mail or video-conferencing. All these methods are somewhat weaker than face to face meetings for understanding the other side and achieving synergy. Here are some tips for communicating with Indians by e-mail or over the telephone.

Common mistakes foreigners make when dealing with Indians via telephone/Internet

  • Failure to understand the sense of cyclical and adaptive time of Indian culture.
  • Not understanding that Indian logic is inductive rather than deductive as in Western logic.
  • Too much reliance on e-mail.
  • Assuming that all Indians are comfortable with addressing people by first name.
  • Not becoming comfortable with 'Sir', 'Madam', 'Miss', 'Mrs.' or 'Mr.' being used constantly.
  • Having the misconception that "getting-to-know-you" questions are an intrusion into personal life.
  • Getting nervous when Indians come up with questions at all stages.
  • Finding out who the real decision maker is.

Common mistakes Indians make when dealing with foreigners via telephone/Internet

  • Failure to understand the sense of linear and 'mono chronic' or linear time-flow time with high priority of timetables that many cultures have.
  • Not understanding that Indian logic is inductive and not deductive like Western business logic.
  • Lack of documentation: most things are kept in the head.
  • Lack of e-mail etiquette: many don't take e-mail seriously.
  • Not communicating in a precise manner but resting on assumptions.
  • Not asking questions to clarify all doubts in the initial stage and then coming up with a whole list of questions later.
  • Addressing people by first name does not come naturally to many Indians.
  • Awkwardness while dealing with women clients.
  • Not recognizing that many people are not comfortable with 'Sir', 'Madam', 'Miss', 'Mrs.' or 'Mr.' being used constantly.
  • Assuming that decision making processes are similar to their own.

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How to prepare yourself for dealing with Indians via telephone/Internet

As a non-Indian there are four factors you need to come to terms with in India. These are:

  1. Orientation to time
  2. System of Logic
  3. Way of Documentation
  4. Understanding mindsets

In India there is never a shortage of history and people don't think of time as a scarce resource. It is also a very diverse and complex society. So Indians are used to the fact that schedules change, many things happen at once or they don't. To the chagrin of foreign partners, secretaries in India barge in to get documents signed or give some message even in the middle of important meetings or videoconferences.

  • Always keep margins in schedules
  • Be prepared for interruptions
  • Triple check everything about schedules to eliminate the effect of unforeseeable events

Most importantly, when dealing with Indian businesses pay attention to establishing shared rules of communication and being sensitive to what is left unsaid. A structured, mutual and systematic approach where both sides can clearly follow the course of events would surely result in increased efficiency.

Originally published at The Sideroad

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