Learn a few Indian customs with these tips to avoid any unintentional rudeness.
Step 1: Use titles Use the titles of your Indian counterparts, or address them as "Mr.," "Mrs.," or "Miss." Exchange business cards at the beginning of a meeting, which is standard Indian business etiquette.
TIP: The western habit of whistling to get someone's attention is considered impolite in India. Winking may also be interpreted as offensive, and even sexual.
Step 2: Conduct with respect Conduct yourself with respect that reassures Indian businesspeople that your intentions are trustworthy and sincere. This includes reining in the western tendency to be aggressive, which, in India, can be taken for disrespect.
Step 3: Give gifts attention Decline expensive gifts if you can. When you can't, accept the gift with both hands. Set aside a wrapped gift until the giver leaves, which is considered proper etiquette.
TIP: Avoid motioning to someone with a palm up or by wagging one finger, which is an insult. Standing with your hands on your hips is also considered an aggressive posture.
Step 4: Be sensitive to culture Accept all food and drink during business meetings, even if you elect only to nibble at it.
Step 5: Know what they eat Remember that Hindus don't eat beef, and Muslims don't eat pork. Many Indians are entirely vegetarian. Be sensitive to a predominant cultural and religious inclination toward vegetarianism and a general abstention from alcohol or cigarettes. Indians prefer business lunches to business dinners, by and large.
Step 6: Go along to get along Go along with a general disregard for punctuality. Relax and be flexible with them and business will go swimmingly.
FACT: The Indian Gross Domestic Product grew at 6.7 percent in 2008 to 2009, one of the fastest growing economies in the world.