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It’s a Wild West! Cross-cultural issues for Indians dealing with the West Stephen Manallack Author “Soft Skills for a Flat World” (Tata McGraw- Hill Sept.

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Presentation on theme: "It’s a Wild West! Cross-cultural issues for Indians dealing with the West Stephen Manallack Author “Soft Skills for a Flat World” (Tata McGraw- Hill Sept."— Presentation transcript:

1 It’s a Wild West! Cross-cultural issues for Indians dealing with the West Stephen Manallack Author “Soft Skills for a Flat World” (Tata McGraw- Hill Sept 2012) Co-Author “Riding the Elephant” India Business and Communication Consultant

2 1. Absolute vs relative Rules & Relationships The West’s single minded search for certainty (the absolute) whereas India knows life is more complex (relative) The result is…

3 Decisions and Contracts Westerners inflexible… WESTINDIA Rules come firstRelationships first Fixed ContractsFlexible Contracts Trustworthy = sticks to itTrustworthy = adapts Inflexible “letter of law”Go with changes

4 Westerners responses: But I thought we had a contract? What do you mean you can’t make a decision right now? Didn’t you say I could have this by last Monday?

5 2. Are you dealing with a decision-maker? The West expects the person they deal with can make a decision. The collective approach of India is different. The result is…

6 Are you dealing with a decision-maker? WESTINDIA Individual takes chargeGroup decisions Responsibility“Guru” Leadership Work/Family separateWork is family Direct/instantIndirect/delay

7 What this means for you Your western counterpart rarely works with extended family and sees work as work It frustrates them when decisions need to be referred back to the group Most westerners are direct and cannot understand why an Indian colleague might say “yes” instead of “no”

8 3. Why westerners see India as noisy and confronting Many westerners feel self-control is the key, while many Indians show emotion – followed by harmony The results is…

9 Noisy and confronting? Or that’s just how we do things here? WEST INDIA Cover emotionsShow emotions Non-physicalCan be physical Cool, controlRaised voices “Harmony” results

10 What this means for you Westerners uncomfortable with physical contact/closeness Westerners concerned by disagreements Westerners shocked if asked direct personal questions or asked for help getting a job

11 4. Can we please get to the point!! Westerners like to tackle issues head on, while Indians choose a less direct route The result is…

12 Why the West often feels frustrated WESTINDIA Direct Work around issues “I will try” Open on surfaceClosed on surface Very closed withinOnce in, very open Move on, rushStay for dinner

13 Things different in the west “Dormitory suburbs” means less after work meetings and socialisation West thrives on certainty not the Indian response of “I will try…” Work is work, weekends are off Westerners not so status conscious

14 5. The West is informal and challenging Westerners can judge their superiors harshly, giving status only when it is earned. Indians more readily give respect to the person with the title. The result is…

15 The West is informal and challenging WESTINDIA Boss is humanBoss is Guru Titles rarely usedTitles and formality Technical challengesHigher authority Meet in officesMeet hotels, cafes Often contradict superiorsNever contradict

16 How does this work? Westerners often contradict someone older or in more responsible position Quick to challenging decisions or offer criticism – expect you to be robust Less respect for status – “earn” respect

17 6. Westerners watch the time – the straight line of certainty Most westerners like to focus on one thing at a time, whereas an Indian can deal with multiple tasks The result is…

18 Westerners watch time WESTINDIA LinearCircular Single focusMulti-focus Rigid schedulesFlexible Meetings precise“India meeting”

19 Things to watch out for! Westerners often easily annoyed by cell phones They do not like you to be late Uncomfortable if your conversation includes long pauses for reflection They do not react well to distractions such as letters to sign, plus interruptions – not so good at “going with the flow” Silence is seen in the west as awkward Westerns highly scheduled, on time, rush on…

20 7. “I want action, not harmony!!!” Westerners prefer action, even if it causes friction. Indians generally favour harmony, even at the price of action. The result is…

21 Action or harmony? WESTINDIA Individual in controlPart of universe Convictions/actionHarmony Self, job, groupOthers, then self Disturbed by change“Karma”

22 It’s a Wild West! Westerners can be blunt about your country - or about anything at all Harmony not so important – action is the thing for your western counterpart Will often criticise – does not mean to offend Less interested in agreement than in results Want regular communication from you – even if it is bad news!

23 Stephen Manallack India Business Consultant Author Soft Skills for a Flat World (Tata McGraw-Hill, Sept 2012) Co-Author of Riding the Elephant (2010) Director, The Information Company (Aust) Phone


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