First impressions are important all around the world. Yet in an unfamiliar setting, it’s easy to take a wrong step and end up in an uncomfortable situation. The good news is that Indians welcome the opportunity to work with foreigners, making your adjustment much easier. Remembering a few crucial points helps you easily roll with the cultural punches and conduct your business smoothly.
Using a gracious greeting shows your new Indian acquaintances that you’re committed to being respectful and courteous. The traditional Indian form of greeting is the namaste, which literally means “I bow to the divine in you.” Sure beats a “Hey, how ya doin’?,” doesn’t it? The namaste is used for greeting, for taking leave, and also to seek forgiveness.
To greet someone with a namaste, bring your hands together with palms touching in front of your chest in a graceful fashion, as shown in Figure 15-1. Different languages may have different names for the namaste, but the gesture remains the same throughout India.
Greeting your Indian business colleagues with a namaste is considered a compliment, and it sets the right tone for the rest of your meeting and shows that you’ve taken time to understand Indian exchanges. But offering a handshake isn’t looked down upon. In fact, many Indian businesspeople offer a handshake ...