A large percentage of Indian workers—even middle and senior management—hasn’t had much exposure to international business. Although this fact is changing rapidly, don’t be surprised if you end up working with Indian colleagues and partners that seem like they need a crash course in working with foreign businesspeople, particularly Westerners.
In this section, I clue you in on a few Indian idiosyncrasies that you may notice while you’re helping your Indian colleagues get used to working with foreigners.
It’s true that one of the advantages of doing business in India is the prevalence of Indians who speak English. That said, it’s important for you to realize and appreciate that Indian English is probably quite different from your English, and it takes some getting used to before you can comprehend it without missing a beat.
One example of India-speak is the Indian fondness for hyperbole (exaggeration). If one of your Indian colleagues says, “I have been to London very often,” you may take that to mean that he has been there a dozen or so times. In reality, he may have visited London only twice! He’s not trying to mislead you; it’s just that the adjective very tends to be a bit overused in Indian English.
Other common uses of hyperbole can be problematic in business situations. If an Indian says “I can get that done very easily” or “Things are going very well here,” you may think ...