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Working With Indian Teams? Practical Guide To Communication In India

 

India is the leading IT outsourcing country in the world, and many believe that the number of developers in India will soon overtake that in the United States. This means that if you work in the technology sector, chances are –you either work or will at some point work with people from India. 

While working across cultures brings numerous advantages, it is important to be aware of the cross-cultural differences and how people communicate in different parts of the world. At Talaera Talks, we started a culture series where we share tips on how to communicate with different cultures (e.g. United States, Germany, or Israel). Today, we have a very special guest –Jitin Chopra, Systems Specialist at Salesforce!

How To Communicate Better With...

In this culture series, we discuss how to communicate better with people from different cultures. These episodes cover general communication patterns, and it is important to bear in mind that each individual is different. These tips will help you understand how others communicate in professional settings, but always remember that they are not always applicable to every person born in that country.

In this Talaera Talks episode, we talk about communication in India with Jitin Chopra. He is a Systems Specialist at Salesforce based in India. He has vast experience working in the technology sector and communicating with team members from other cultures, and he shared his own view of that cross-cultural interaction.

Interesting facts about India

  • Population: 1.39 billion (2020), which is roughly 17.70 % of the world's population. India is the second most populated country in the world after China.
  • Capital: New Delhi
  • Currency: Indian rupee (₹) (INR)
  • Languages: India does not have a national language, although the constitution recognizes over 20 languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, and Tamil, among others (India is home to several hundred languages).
  • Indian inventions: refined sugar, shampoo, yoga, Sanskrit, Ayurveda, zero, and chess are some of the many inventions that originated in India.
  • Bollywood: Bollywood is the world's largest producer of films, surpassing Nollywood (Nigerian Cinema) and even Hollywood.

Non-verbal communication in India

  • Greetings. Avoid greeting someone with a hug or a kiss unless you know the person well. Pressing your palms together with the fingertips facing upwards is a common greeting in India, and shaking hands is becoming more and more popular. However, However, if you are a man greeting a woman, it is best to wait for her to extend her hand first.
  • Physical contact. If you don't know the other person, it is best not to touch them. Bear in mind, though, that if they are the same gender as you, they may touch your arm or hand when speaking.
  • Eye contact. People in India maintain less eye contact than other Western cultures. They keep it minimal, especially between genders and with those in a higher rank than them.
  • Gestures. The nodding gesture where the head is moved up and down, and sometimes diagonally tilted shows approval or understanding.
  • Punctuality. Indians typically have a relaxed approach towards timekeeping and punctuality. Adaptability is more important than strictly sticking to a timeframe. In more relaxed events such as friend gatherings, it is common for people to arrive at events 30 minutes to an hour after the designated time. However, Indians will usually observe punctuality in a formal context such as important business meetings, appointments, or when visiting a doctor.
  • Business culture. Relationships play a significant role, and trust is key in business. In more traditional settings, people enter a meeting in order of importance, with the highest-ranking person arriving first. This also applied to introductions. Those highest-ranking people are also those who tend to make the final decisions.
  • Negotiations. Negotiations will probably take longer than in other countries. They progress slower partly because they are based on building trust.

Verbal communication in India

  • Indirect communication style. Communication is indirect, and negative feedback is provided in a subtle, diplomatic way. "Yes" can have different meanings. An Indian may say ‘yes’ to indicate that they are listening to the speaker, whilst indicating disagreement or refusal through their body language. You won't hear "no" very often, as it sounds harsh. Instead, they may say “we’ll see”, “yes, but it may be difficult”, “I’ll try”. In India, the polite way to say no is to say, "I'll see what I can do", or something to that effect, no matter how impossible the task may be. 
  • Silence. ​​Sometimes people will remain silent rather than provide a direct ‘no’
  • Small talk. It is rather common for Indians to ask straightforward, personal questions by Western standards, such as asking about salaries, kids, or family plans.
  • You may find some questions Indians ask to be quite forward or frank by Western expectations (e.g. ‘How much do you earn?’). However, these kinds of questions are commonplace in India.
  • Emails. Emails tend to include a lot of formalities and are longer than in other countries.

Tips to effectively communicate with Indians

#1 Don't assume that "Yes" means "Yes, I will do that"

Remember that "yes" can have different meanings, one of them is "yes, I am listening" (not "yes, I will do as you say"). Check in frequently, rephrase your message, and ask them to enunciate their action items to make sure you are all on the same page.

#2 Pay attention to non-verbal communication

The Indian headshake or nod may look like "no", but it generally means agreement. On the contrary, if they say things like "I'll look into it" and take ages to get a reply, it might indeed mean that it will not happen. India is –in general terms– an indirect country, which means you will probably have to read the lines on more than one occasion.

#3 Give context

Explain what you need and why, and how individual tasks fit into broader goals. India is a high-context culture, which means that good communication is sophisticated and messages are nuanced and layered. Since not everything is clearly spelled out, context is crucial to ensure effective communication.

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#4 Ask enough questions about time frames

Ask questions about realistic time frames for different milestones. Time perception in India is more flexible than in countries such as Germany, Sweden, or the Netherlands. This means that project steps and tasks might change as opportunities and new needs arise. They value flexibility and adaptability over sticking to the schedule, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. Communicate often and set clear expectations on both ends.

#5 Invest in building relationships

Spend time with your teams in India, have frequent team and 1:1 meetings, and build relationships with them. This will allow you to catch issues early, before they escalate. Once you build relationships and establish trust, your peeps in India will feel more comfortable being more direct and speaking their minds without you needing to read between the lines.

 

If you still need help to communicate effectively with other cultures, get in touch with Talaera. This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode on how to communicate better with US Americans. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.

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Talaera Talks - Transcript Episode 26

If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. Listen to it on your favorite platform:

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Intro
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we're going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!

Simon Kennell 0:24
My name is Simon and today I am joined with Paola. Paola, how are you doing today?

Paola Pascual 0:30
I'm doing very well, Simon, thanks. How are you?

Simon Kennell 0:33
I'm doing great. We are I think both very excited today because we have another really cool guest for our culture series. So we've already done how many countries now we've done us, Israel and Germany.

Paola Pascual 0:51
That's right. And today we have India.

Paola Pascual 0:54
That's right, number four. And for our guest for the India episode, we have brought in someone that's... We're really excited to speak about, and to talk to Jitin Chopra, Systems Specialist at Salesforce and he's been with Salesforce for the past six and a half years. So several years of experience as a technical expert. And both as a senior developer and a senior success agent You know, a lot of these words I'm gonna I'm going to ask you a little bit about your team but experienced in Agile methodology Scrum management and really a lot of different aspects of project management. So this is a really great opportunity to meet you and yeah, thank you for joining the podcast today.

Jitin Chopra 1:50
I'm excited to be here. And thank you for this opportunity. And I'm really excited.

Simon Kennell 1:55
Great, Great. So yeah, it's really great to have you and if you don't mind just I mean telling us a little bit about yourself and you know where you're located in India and your role Salesforce.

Jitin Chopra 2:11
Okay, my name is Jitin and I have been in I've been working with Salesforce for more than six years as you said right, six and a half years. And I am based out of Hyderabad which is there in southern India, though I belong to Delhi, which is the capital city of a country and I just moved here as I got an opportunity to work with Salesforce. And that's how you know I'm sticking to Hyderabad, which is there in the southern part of our country and I'm pretty much enjoying my time though, I miss my home city a lot. But it just you know, it just a different flavor that I'm getting to experience in the southern part of the country and being a person from North India. I'm just enjoying my time here in Hyderabad. And coming to my role in Salesforce. I'm a technical expert, I'm working on the Salesforce platform itself. And you know, we take care of our internal Salesforce related stuff, right? So it's, you know, doing development work on Salesforce platform and you know, maintaining that and doing you know, features and enhancements and things like that I can talk I can talk a lot about that, but this is the initial initial intro.

Paola Pascual 3:23
That's great. And how much of your role involves communicating with people from other countries and other cultures?

Jitin Chopra 3:32
It's more or less you know, we speak to the people in different countries almost you know, that is that is our day to day job. And I start my day at you know, nine nine o'clock Indian Standard Time, which is the end of the day for the for the Americans right? So it's like you're getting handovers from them, you know, speaking to them talking, talking to them about operations and you know, if there's anything that they want us to take care of, in their absence when they're sleeping. So it's just that you know, we are 24 cross seven and and you know, our business should be running all the time. And you know, it just that if anything is you know, there that you know, we need to take care of in our APAC, friendlies or AIPAC or ISD. Ours, we take care of it. And, you know, when it comes to people in UK or EMEA, right, so we have our clients all across the globe, right? So, you know, Salesforce is a big, big company, and they have employees across the globe and they have customers across the globe as well and and we are customer facing right. So, we get to we get a chance to speak to your different customers across the globe. And it just that you know, I mean, I have interacted with almost you know, all the people from different parts of the world. So, I cannot say I have I have interacted with all the countries or all the folks from all the all the countries but yeah, I can say most of them,

Paola Pascual 4:50
Definitely with a lot. So for today, what we will do is it's quite similar to what we've been doing for other episodes in this series, so We'll talk about some quick facts about India obviously India's huge use you mentioned that you were born in one place and now you're in the south so I'd be super curious to hear some of those differences but so after the quick facts we'll move on to talking about nonverbal communication then verbal communication and then at the end we'll provide some quick tips for people that are not from India that will be communicating with people from from from India right great awesome great. Simon Do you have any quick facts about India today?

Simon Kennell 5:33
I do and you know this is I have to say I've said this before I'll say it again like India is one of those like big book places that I just I've always wanted to go and it was actually my plan the summer what was it the summer after COVID started was that was like the summer I had earmarked to go and and do a big backpack through through northern India so now it's just like I'm just doing all this research about India for the episode and I'm just I'm going through all my old travel documents but what I found was I mean obviously a massive country right i mean over a billion people and they're the one thing that I think was really kind of amazing to me is that there are 23 official languages which jitan correct me if I'm wrong, but that means you know most Indians grow up knowing two or three languages right?

Jitin Chopra 6:35
That is correct because when I moved here in Hyderabad right so you know, as I said in the southern part of the country, I didn't know the local language here the only two languages that I knew at that time was English of course and Hindi which is the most common language which is speaking languages spoken in India

Simon Kennell 6:52
Right and so so when you're going to like buy stuff you then have to speak in Hindi but then people know that you're not from Hyderabad right?

Jitin Chopra 7:02
They were able they are able to make out right shows the dressing sense and you know, and the other other way that that we carry out on our daily on a daily basis right so that the locals here they were able to make out that yeah, this person is not from Hyderabad. First is that I didn't know I didn't know their language.

Simon Kennell 7:19
Wow. And that's that's like you would have is it really like learning an entirely new language? Or are there elements that you can kind of build on?

Jitin Chopra 7:29
I tried learning the local language here which is telugu, right? So Telugu is the local language which is, you know, used by the people from Telangana, which is one of the states in India. Right? So I tried learning, but I was not successful. I was just, it's stuff right? I mean, I didn't I haven't used that for you know, since my birth, right? I've been using Hindi or English, right? So I tried, I tried learning it but was not was not successful. So I'm just surviving with, you know, Hindi and English here. And I find people speaking in Hindi and English, right? So it's not that difficult and you know, to interact with others. So it's all good with Hindi as well, which is you know, which is the language which is used in most most part of the country?

Paola Pascual 8:13
Can you get by in English throughout the country? Or it depends on the area?

Jitin Chopra 8:17
The depends on the area. That is correct. Because if you go to the rural area, right, so there might be you might not be you might not, you might not be finding people speaking in Hindi or English, they must be, you know, using their all local languages. This is apart from 23 languages that you are talking about, I don't know, I don't know the exact count, to be honest. So it's like, you know, they're they will be using their local languages. And, I mean, it's hard to communicate with them, I agree. But you know, they are they are polite, right? They will be able to understand with your hand gestures that you know, in case you need anything from them. So, even though you know, you don't know their local language, it's okay. interacting with them. And you know, they're, they're always helpful. Great.

Simon Kennell 9:01
Great. Two have my last fun facts here about India. Apparently, the game of chess originated in India, about 1500 years ago, and based on a seven century war game called Chaturanga and which is from north western India. I don't know, Jistin, if that's like, every Indian knows that or something you could comment on?

Jitin Chopra 9:29
I'm getting to know from you. Okay, great, but, you know, 1500 years ago, it's a long time, right? And it's if you know, and this is the game which is played across the globe and played worldwide, right? So thank you for sharing this.

Paola Pascual 9:48
We're all learning today Exactly. Yeah,

Jitin Chopra 9:50
it's a great learning for today and I myself learned just you know, only two or three years back, I was fascinated with you know, people playing it, you know, concentrating so hard playing on chess, and when They are winning it. It's a real joy in itself, right? So yeah, I at least I can proudly say that yes, I being an Indian I, even though it was originated in my country, I know playing out. I know how to play chess. Right.

Simon Kennell 10:11
Nice. Nice. And then this last one this is I think something that probably most people are very familiar with is that Bollywood is the world's largest producer of films. This statistic is crazy to me that produces between 1500 to 2000 feature films a year on average. That's like, that's wild to me to think and I mean, I think most people are familiar with with the dancing that the dancing breaks in Bollywood films and how great that is. I mean, do you have a favorite Bollywood? picture that that that's just like the number one for you?

Jitin Chopra 10:49
Uh, you know, I like Bollywood movies. Yes. And as you know, there are different languages I'm fond of in the punjabi movies. Both right. So Punjab is again in the north side of the country. Yeah. And I recently watched one movie which was named as chimichurri, right. I don't know the whether, you know the meaning of this word or not. But that is one of the things that I like the most it is, it was basically based on the friendships. And I myself have spent, you know, four years in the hostel away from home. So it is it was majorly based on your friendships in hostels,

Simon Kennell 11:28
I will check it out.

Jitin Chopra 11:32
I have one question. One question to you, right. So how many Bollywood movies you guys have seen? You are aware of? I have to

Paola Pascual 11:40
I'll be brutally honest. I have not seen a single film.

Jitin Chopra 11:45
You should.

Paola Pascual 11:46
I know. I know. I really should I feel really bad about not having watched out one. I'll check them out.

Simon Kennell 11:54
I watched one one time. And I came across it because the guy who I forget his name now he was on David Letterman's Netflix show. But I forget his name. And apparently he was like the Tom Cruise of Bollywood. Oh, what was his name? I need to find it right now. Because Shah Rukh Khan.

Jitin Chopra 12:24
Oh, is the king of the Bollywood There you go. That's

Simon Kennell 12:27
Right. So I've watched a couple scenes on YouTube from, but I didn't watch the whole movie. But I watched a couple scenes and this guy was like the coolest guy I've ever seen.

Jitin Chopra 12:39
I totally agree to that.

Paola Pascual 12:43
This is one more fact that I wanted to bring up. I think it's super relevant to what we're talking about business and communication. And roughly 67% of the world's outsourcing is done in India, which is a lot. And Simon wrote down here the Indian IT industry is valued at 150 billion US dollars, which is crazy. So communication with India is just on the rise.

Simon Kennell 13:10
Yeah. And I wonder if that number is wrong. So you know, I wonder if I follow it because it just doesn't seem like it's big enough. I mean, it just seems like India has really become this powerhouse of because English is so so widely spoken. And because the IT sector has grown so much. And it's just seems like most of the of the Indian students that I've worked with have, just from from the start of their career worked internationally and in big international companies and worked across cultures. I mean, has that been your experience? jutsu that just it that's kind of like a given that you're going to work in a big international company, or at least work across cultures?

Jitin Chopra 13:57
I'm not sure on this number, right. 150 billion US dollar. So one thing that I'm I have seen, you know, with spending 6006 years in Hyderabad, and you know, more than 1010 plus 10 plus years in ICT industry. I've seen development happening in cities. And I've seen you know, big, big zzS and, you know, the buildings construction happening. And I cannot comment on the number but I'm sure that Yes. You know, there was outsourcing is being done in India. I wouldn't I wouldn't be surprised if you say it's more than 67% as well. Right? So, yeah,

Paola Pascual 14:32
Definitely a high percentage.

Simon Kennell 14:35
Do you feel like from the start then that you really kind of have to get immersed in the we say the international market, like getting immersed in communicating across cultures?

Jitin Chopra 14:52
Ah, maybe I didn't I'm sorry. I didn't understand the question.

Jitin Chopra 14:55
So so a lot of times with this IT industry, a lot of times you're communicating with you know with people internationally right and you're communicating a lot across cultures Do you feel like that's something that you have to kind of get used to or or learn around and communicating across cultures? Do you learn that pretty quickly? You feel like that you have this awareness of okay yeah a lot of Americans talk like this or a lot of Brits communicate like this and these differences

Jitin Chopra 15:27
So you know, I would have said yes in the if you know this you know, the session was happening at the starting of my career. I mean, initially you know, when you're out of college you don't even know right how to communicate with the other cultures right but you know spending this many years in IT industry I'm you know, it just come it just you know, interacting with others and it comes naturally and you know, you gradually comes to know

Paola Pascual 15:52
That makes a lot of sense after practicing and being in touch with other cultures.

Jitin Chopra 15:57
One thing is that yes, I'm sorry one thing is that yes, we do get trainings on you know, how to interact with different cultures and you know, how to interact with us how to interact with bridge so, we do take trainings and you know, we try to implement the learnings from those trainings in our day to day day to day interactions with them

Paola Pascual 16:18
So important. I'm super curious about the communication aspects and starting with nonverbal... How do people greet each other in India usually? Like a shaking hands or like pressing palms together? Is that a thing in India or do you do people kiss each other on the cheek? What's your experience?

Jitin Chopra 16:39
Yes, pressing the palms together you know it's like we say it as Namaste and I'm sure this is you know, this is a term which everyone must be super familiar with right so number stays like okay pressing the palms together with the fingers facing upwards. So it is you know just a sign of respect that you are giving to the other person and greeting the greeting him or them and shaking hands Yes, it has been followed in the corporate culture and you know it is the veiling but it also depends on you know, the other person with whom you are interacting with and you know most of the most of the country you might find that you know shaking up the hands is not prevailing that much and if specifically if you're you know, meeting a person was the other gender right so if let's say if you are meeting a female I mean they tend to avoid these handshakes and kissing kissing on cheeks and you know hugging is not that popular in India.

Paola Pascual 17:40
I just want to talk graphic if I go to a business meeting in India and I am to shake and I want to greet a person I am potentially going to work with, what is the safest? What should I do a non Indian?

Jitin Chopra 17:53
Okay. So if you are a non Indian and if you are going you said you you want to have business with them right. So, first and foremost you know dating them and you know and just asking you know about their well being and you know which part of the city they belong which part of the country they belong and you know, just ensuring these guys the Indians are comfortable with you know, whatever the things that you can ask about I mean like we are talking right so, it's just that you need to ensure that you need to ensure that you know, you are making the Indians comfortable and initially they will be very indirect you know, they might not be opening that that quickly might match you know us might be us people might be doing that but the Indians you know, they will be taking their own sweet time they will be ensuring that you know, they are meeting and they are working with the right person so you will you just have to be a little patient and you just have to give them a little more space that okay yes we are going to work and at times you know the the decision making aspects as well you might not find them real quick in the decision making right so you just have to be a little patient as I said right so you just have to win the trust the trust is a biggest word and you know it's followed very religiously in India so in case you know, you are able to win the press they will be ensuring that you know, your business whatever you Western asset you are going to set up is working very nicely in India.

Simon Kennell 19:21
I think that's that's a huge point that you just brought up about trust because I think that's something that's often overlooked, especially coming from the west it's all about time is money and now now now and you know, Hello Nice to meet you, okay, let's get to business right? And And whereas, you know, if we talk about this kind of more trust based, it's okay, let's, let's feel it out. Let's, you know, let's see how we each feel. And then when we've established this trust, you know, let's get to know each other a little bit. Now we can go into a much more kind of meaningful and deep work relationship. I mean, it In my experience I feel like that little bit of patience upfront like you talked about can go a long way right and in terms of that business relationship

Jitin Chopra 20:09
Absolutely and you know if I am starting a business in India right so I would be looking out for a person to whom maybe I'm knowing for ages or you not a person person why trust I cannot go out and you will start working with any any and every every person right so it's really important for you to know the person just try and understand their working styles and you know this just politically so yeah that is a

Paola Pascual 20:39
Very very good point. So going back a little bit to physical contact and greetings I would say that when you go to for example a country like India first avoid any physical contact and then fill them out and if it just works out or if they extend their hand for a handshake then you can go for it usually the safest

Jitin Chopra 20:59
tThat's correct

Simon Kennell 21:01
Yeah, that's that's what I do. That's what I do in most most cross cultural situations is that I let the other person take the lead and that tends to be the best way to go about it

Jitin Chopra 21:14
Yeah, so it's a little different here I mean, you might find your if you're if you're if you're if you're having some physical contact hugs kisses you know you might find people staring at you that is what it is and that's how you know it's a traditional culture here and people are conservative and the Western culture coming in you might find you know, these hugs and you know, this kiss On the cheeks happening but if you go in the rural part of the country right and you are not doing the right thing I will say it's a no and I would advise you you should avoid that.

Simon Kennell 21:52
One thing with with nonverbal communication I think this is a big one and we talked about it a little bit before was you know, this idea of understanding right and it's very common in India to shake your head to show that you're understanding and this I think can be a little bit confusing for many non Indian or Western Westerners who are maybe on a video call for example and you know, hey Jane, we're talking about this and this is the kind of project and then if I see you could just kind of shaking your head to me that's you know, signaling a no right but you know in India that's that's a I'm listening to you and I'm taking in what you're hearing right? Has that been something that that you've come across that you've seen that kind of culture clash of understanding what that

Jitin Chopra 22:45
So I was shaking my head when you know you were asking this question but what what is the question and you know shaking up the I'm sorry, shaking of the head is like okay you are you are listening to the other person you are acknowledging whatever the other person is saying and just try to be in sync with you know, what the other person is going through so, this is very common if in case you know you are finding any person nodding you know for in case you are saying and you know you're asking him or her for anything you know, you might find that yes they are shaking their heads You know, they're just nodding that means they are listening to you yeah, that's

Paola Pascual 23:23
Great to know. Any other gestures, Jitin, that are very typical from India?

Jitin Chopra 23:30
I don't have any at the top of my mind related to the you know, office culture but the thing that I have seen very frequently here is that you know, you might find people you know, touching seats of the elders and elders are you know, treated in a very respectful way So, in case you're you are going out you know, and there are kids and wife and you know, you have elders at home Indians will be ensuring that you will not the eldest person in the family is sitting first with you taking the seat right after, you know, all the elders in the, in the family, they have taken their seats. And, also, you're right, it also is, you know, majorly you know, all the decision making is done by the elders in the family.

Paola Pascual 24:18
So, there's there's a big tradition of family and respecting the elder and that kind of culture right?

Jitin Chopra 24:27
Yes, I mean, the biggest Stila you know, very decent word, right? It's very, very religiously followed here. Right.

Paola Pascual 24:37
In our previous episode, we talked about Germany and how they're really in general, they have the respect from to ality so people need to arrive early. When there's a meeting it should be something like that is important. Is it that important for Indian culture, to be on time,

Jitin Chopra 24:58
It depends on the person with whom you are meeting. So there is a business meeting or if there is, let's say a doctor's appointment, right? So it is going to ensure that they are there before the time or if there is a flight to catch or if there's a train to train to catch, right? So, the Indians of ensuring that okay, we are we should they well before time is not on time. But in case you know, it is a meeting with any of your relatives, or if a person was, you know, right on reminding that, okay, even if I'm late, you know, if, here, if you're finding a person saying, Okay, I'm coming in five minutes, you just have to be patient, and you just have to think in that will get this guy will be taking at least 15 or 30 minutes. So that sort of culture is here. But as I said, right, it depends on the person with whom you're meeting.

Simon Kennell 25:46
Right. Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool. So verbal communication, now we get a little bit more complex, right? We're getting into the weeds a little bit and and and with verbal communication. Would you agree? I mean, of course, when we talk about cultural differences and communication differences, everything's like kind of in relation to each other right? Like what I myself as an American would say is very direct to another culture would be very indirect, right? Well, I mean, would you consider with I mean, with your colleagues, and most of the people that you work with, that your culture would be a little bit more indirect in terms of the communication style?

Jitin Chopra 26:31
I would agree Yes. The Indians and the Indians, you know, there in the initial part of the conversations, they will be always like, indirect. And they would be you know, always finding that, you know, they cannot say no, directly, right. And if in case you know, they are not comfortable with anything, if you are asking, right, they will say okay, I will check, I will get back, but you you won't be finding them saying no, straight away. And then

Paola Pascual 27:02
Sorry, sorry, go ahead.

Jitin Chopra 27:04
So and then there is, you know, I wouldn't say that an endeavor entirely indirect, right. So, in case you and I'm speaking to a colleague who is was, you know, one of my good friends, there's no point being indirect with them, it also depends on the person again, you know, when we were speaking, and once you're familiar, once you have built the trust, this indirect will be converted to the direct conversations, that communication as well,

Simon Kennell 27:28
That goes back to that, that trust base is is even in the communication style.

Paola Pascual 27:34
It's, it's very interesting what you were saying, I've also had experiences when I've worked with people from India, also, with people from other parts of Asia, and that indirect style can be confusing for some people, because you hear exactly what you said, Oh, yes, I'll think about that. Well consider that. And that might actually be a no, for But no, it just sounds too harsh to say, straightaway, at least, you don't know the person very well.

Jitin Chopra 28:04
I agree. And, you know, what we feel here in India is that, you know, the other person may feel may get offended, you know, in case we are saying, Seta, we know, and this is what, you know, we always try to say, Okay, I'll try and if and there is another aspect of it as well, right? So in case you're speaking to an Indian, and you have asked them as a task, and they are not comfortable. And in case you are not getting any response, I mean, you are just just getting a pin drop silence, and then it would be like, it's good to, you know, good to assume that, you know, this person is not comfortable. It's, it's an indirect No.

Paola Pascual 28:44
You have to read between the lines. (Exactly, yes.) And something that I always find quite tricky when I communicate with other cultures is small talk, what is okay to talk about? What can I ask what can I not ask? Is there anything I should avoid?

Jitin Chopra 29:01
Oh, you can ask personal questions yet? I mean, the Indians they are, you know, open and asking, okay, how much you're earning. You know, what is the religion and, you know, these sort of questions which are, which are very personal. And I've been insulted in many situations, right, where I've been asked, okay, how much you're earning and, and, you know, how is your personal life and I mean, even even about kids right on when are you starting the family plan? These are the questions right. So it is our opening asking these sorts of questions.

Simon Kennell 29:38
I think I would meltdown. Yeah, I think meltdown if someone asked any of those I would just wouldn't know where to begin. That's that's funny, but but but it comes out. Do you think that comes? And I think this is an important question is where does that come from? Is it coming from a place of I'm just being you know, Curious and nosy? Or do you think it's more from a place of like, I really want to get to know the real you and I care to know you. So I'm gonna ask these questions that maybe, you know, are, I wouldn't say more sensitive, but they're more kind of personal.

Jitin Chopra 30:17
I would think the second part, the latter part, because, you know, I don't expect up the person, you know, that, I don't know, who's asking these sort of questions, it's majorly, you know, the people you know. And there might be, you know, eager to know what how you are doing in life, you know, they might be doing some comparison with, you know, the comparison is always there, right between India or everywhere, it's, they might be comparing with their own kids, you know, some relatives. So, it's just that, you know, they're eager to know, and, you know, there might be some other intentions as well, where they can contribute.

Simon Kennell 30:56
And eager to help. That's, that's, that's good to know. Yeah.

Paola Pascual 30:59
And I like how you keep emphasizing that it depends on the person, it depends on the context. And this is also something that we we really want to emphasize, we're talking in broad terms. And this is like the tendency or what it's generally like in India, but obviously, each person is an individual. And that doesn't mean that every single Indian, you'll meet will be exactly what we're describing. But I do think it's important to know, you know, the trends and the communication styles that happen in that country. So, thank you for pointing that out. What else do we have for today? We're wrapping up soon.

Simon Kennell 31:35
Yeah, so one thing I wanted to get to, and I thought this would be interesting. Jitin, because, you know, we know you work a lot across cultures and with Americans Israelis, and I mean, I'm sure many more, right? And I mean, what what do you feel like has been if there has been one, a cut not I wouldn't call it a culture clash, but a situation where you felt like whoa, the way this person is approaching this or, or this is very, maybe very egalitarian versus hierarchical, or just something that you've come across, that's been very culturally different from your experience.

Jitin Chopra 32:15
I have an example related to the hierarchy. So you know, in the, in the, in the countries other than India, right, with US or UK, you might find that, you know, the people who are there higher higher in the hierarchy, right, they're, they're sitting together, they're enjoying the meals together. And it's a little different here, right? So people in the hierarchy, I mean, they have some, you know, different likings and they're respected in a different way. So, if I'm going out for a meal or lunch, right, so there might be some hesitations going out with the people who's higher in the ladder. So there there might be a sense of little you know, and they might not be comfortable I would say so. This is not worth what it is for, you know, in US or UK right? Everyone is like okay, let's let's just forget about the designation for few few minutes and let's just enjoy the meal

Paola Pascual 33:11
And be all the same. Right? That's that's a difference.

Simon Kennell 33:14
Yeah, yeah. Great, great. And I this is just really from my curiosity. And one more thing is because I just find it so fascinating that you've worked with so many different cultures and everything like that is what has been kind of the thing that you've really had to learn or that you've really had to develop in terms of communicating with different cultures I mean, is there a way like that you feel that you have to communicate when you're because we're talking about you know, international organization where you're communicating with so many different people? Is there like a communication skill that you've had to focus on?

Jitin Chopra 33:55
The communication skill? Yes. You know, I'm an I was not like this naturally, when when I started my career, right I as I said, I didn't even know how to speak English. It was it was not coming out of me naturally to Okay, how to express myself in English and it was the thing which I require I was required to learn. Yeah, right. And then you know, different cultures. It's, you know, the US and I also got, you know, chance to speak to people in new gear, right. So, they use a lot of idioms and you know, they're very straightforward and you know, they are not happy they will be bluntly saying it to you and it at some times you know, when it sounds harsh, but yes, this these are the things which are which we have learned in and I learned with gradually with the time.

Simon Kennell 34:41
Yeah. And that's, that's I don't know whether I answered your question correctly. Or you didn't know you definitely did. You definitely did. Yeah, I think I think that's, that's very helpful, just kind of keeping that awareness and something that you've learned, right. It's something that you develop and, and things like that. So so that's I'm

Jitin Chopra 34:57
Just thinking, right, but what sort of trainings I Had right? Or it's just that when I'm getting opportunities to work with different sorts of people and just getting to know them, patiently listening and giving them the chance to express first and adapting accordingly. But yeah, so it's just that, you know, this is just where the opportunities.

Simon Kennell 35:17
Yeah, yeah. And that adaptation, right, it just kind of happens. You just kind of figure it out as you go along. Hopefully. Right, hopefully.

Jitin Chopra 35:25
Yeah. And yes, that's correct.

Simon Kennell 35:30
All right. Well, I think that is the end for today. Jitin, thank you so much for joining today. I mean, this was so good to have you. And really, you're just helping us out and helping a lot of people that are going to listen to this with so many insights and, and things to kind of consider. So yeah, we really appreciate you joining today.

Jitin Chopra 35:56
Thanks so much. Thank you so much, Simon, thanks Paola.

Simon Kennell 35:58
Absolutely. Absolutely. Great. So everyone out there listening. Our culture series is wrapping up for now we were going to take a little pause, but we're going to come back to it again at some point in the future. But we hope you enjoyed the show. And as always, keep learning.

Outro 27:48

And that's all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to subscribe to Talaera Talks. We'll be back soon with more! And visit our website at https://talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning!

Business English Podcast

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