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Doing Business in India For Dummies® by Ranjini Manian

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Respecting Cultural Differences

If your goal is to foster and develop good relationships with your Indian colleagues and partners, make a concerted effort to respect the differences between your cultures. If you view Indian tendencies and methods with a Western eye, chances are you’ll be washing your hands of India sooner than you think. But if you look at things from the Indian point of view, you may soon realize that things aren’t really that bad; you can, indeed, achieve a lot here. It’s simply about wearing different cultural lenses to see the same world.

In this section, I illuminate some of the cultural differences you need to consider.

Coming to terms with India’s flexible working hours

Indians work, then play, then work, and then play together. They work very long and hard, putting in many hours and sometimes sacrificing weekends, but they don’t necessarily make the most efficient use of their time. It can be quite different than the American style of work, which features periods of very hard work broken up by quick breaks to recharge and prepare for more hard work. You may be surprised by the Indian coffee breaks, the chats around the water cooler, and the stop-and-start style of working in India. Indians may not understand your objection to their going home for lunch and coming back after 90 minutes because they’re willing to stay late to make up the hours.

One of my employees makes for a terrific example of an Indian’s perception of flexible working hours. I have a ...

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