Monday, October 7, 2013

Not going anywhere for a while?

Everything I read in cultural preparation for businesses practices in India has so far held true. Two lessons to share right off the bat.
1. Patience > punctuality
None of the meetings I have attended so far have started with one hour of their specified start time. There is no willingness to proceed even informally until the principal has arrived and he (so far it has always been a he) is typically the last to arrive. I can't imagine even the most patient Americans weathering this type of delay with equanimity, butt it appears to be quite common here, as advertised.
This lateness can in no way be confused for laziness, as the hours that are kept here are lunatic. Granted, they are in crisis mode right now, but no one ever appears to leave, and many of our customer staff worked through the weekend. This includes the staff that is responsible for constantly plying us with bottled water, tea, coffee, and cookies.
2. Heads move
Over the course of a conversation, the heads of your audience will nod up and down, shake left to right and gyrate like a bobble head. This does not mean, respectively, that they are agreeing with you, that they are disagreeing with you, or that they are a giveaway at a baseball game. It simply means that they are listening.
I got off my plane on Friday at 5 AM, and gave my first presentation at 11 AM. Top of mind was staying conscious and coherent, and I was thrown off by people apparently disagreeing or indicating confusion, when all they were doing was the body language for "go on".

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