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Business meeting etiquette


November 1, 2008
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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All nations have particular customs that make conducting business easier. In India, it’s chiefly about respect, making concessions and avoiding confrontation.

All nations have particular customs that make conducting business easier. In India, it’s chiefly about respect, making concessions and avoiding confrontation.

Here are some important things to consider:

Hierarchy: Religion, education and social class all influence greetings in India. This is a hierarchical culture, so greet the eldest or most senior person first. Men may shake hands with other men and women may shake hands with other women; however there are seldom handshakes between men and women, because of religious beliefs. If you are uncertain, wait for them to extend their hand.

Meetings: The best time for a meeting is late morning or early afternoon. Reconfirm your meeting the week before and call again that morning, as it is common for meetings to be cancelled at the last minute. You should arrive at meetings on time, because punctuality is highly valued. Meetings will start with a great deal of ‘getting-to-know-you’ talk. In fact, it is quite possible that no business will be discussed at the first meeting.

Agenda: Always send a detailed agenda in advance. Send back-up material, charts and other data as well. This allows everyone to review and become comfortable with the material prior to the meeting.

Negotiation: Indians are non-confrontational. Overt disagreements are rare, although this is beginning to change in the managerial ranks. The person with the most authority makes the final decision, and the decision-making process is often slow.

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