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Doing Business in India For Dummies® by Ranjini Manian

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Conversing with Your Indian Colleagues

Successful business depends on a sense of trust between colleagues. Establishing a healthy rapport with your Indian coworkers, employees, and clients is an important first step in building that crucial comfort level. If you can understand and implement the basics of Indian interaction, you’ll be well on your way to becoming socially savvy.

Carrying on a conversation

Although many Indians speak outstanding English, their conversational patterns can differ greatly from what you’re used to.

Indians often insert Indian filler words into their otherwise impeccable English conversation. Don’t be surprised if a north Indian says Haan (which means yes in Hindi) several times during a discussion, or if a southern Indian uses illai (which means no in Tamil) the same way. You’re safe just ignoring these words; they’re just fillers and mean nothing in particular when used in this manner.

Noises with specific meanings are also common. You may hear an Indian making a sort of “tch” sound using his tongue and lips. Don’t be alarmed—he’s not making rude noises; he’s using a common expression for no. The same goes for a clicking sound made with the tongue. You also may hear an Indian make a pccchhhh sound, which is used to express sympathy or concern.

Gesturing during a discussion

It’s common to begin a business conversation with a few pleasantries and maybe even a joke or two. As you joke, however, be mindful that certain Western gestures commonly made while ...

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