The Himalayas can show us a key difference between India and the west

Do Indians have a different world view and culture to the west? Of course, each country or region of the world has their own culture and differences exist – understanding and adapting to difference is one key to succeeding across cultures.

This simple statement about the Himalayas might help you see the difference.

If the Himalayas were located in the west, people would flock there for bungy jumping, extreme ski sessions, jumping out of planes and other extreme sports. For India, the Himalayas have been a location of contemplation, monasteries, thought and mindfulness.

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I saw a similar point made using the example of Alexander the Great. The west admires Alexander as a person of action, conquest, growth and acquisition – while a hero in India could be a guru sitting in contemplation under a tree.himalayaMy point is simple – when we understand cultural differences we can then adapt our behavior and communication while remaining true to our own culture.

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Cultural generalisations can be helpful but remember they are just generalisations – there will be exceptions and culture is riddled with paradox. Many westerners are great contemplatives, while Indian history has many action heroes.

7 tips – how Indians can communicate better with Americans and Aussies

Communicating across cultures is the key to future success as the world gets smaller. The trouble is – people from different countries who speak English imagine that they all think the same. They do not. Americans speak English but think American. Australians speak English but think Australian.

Here is how to prepare for better communication with Americans (and many Aussies):

Pitch

What’s the point— In America time is money and everyone is in a hurry. India’s “indirect” style of communication does not work well, it is too slow for them. You have to be good at PITCHING, using around 75 words which really grab their attention (or as Americans would say, “cut to the chase”).

Sports speak is the way to go— Americans and Aussies love sport (different ones). This shows up in their language and you should follow too – observe how they use “home run”, “slam dunk”. “stepping up to the plate” and many more – then use these yourself to make better connections.

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Be much more informal— Americans and Aussies tend to be informal, and everyone can have a say regardless of status. This is generally not the case in India. Just because Americans and Aussies might dress casually or sound informal and relaxed, don’t think they are not deadly serious about doing business. It is not easy for most Indians but using first names soon after meeting is the norm (and not adding “Sir”).

You will be interrupted— Americans and Aussies love fast paced rapid fire conversations, with everyone jumping in to have a say – both are egalitarian cultures and even very junior people are encouraged to speak up. Interruptions are not seen as rude, rather they can see this as signs that things are going well. Silence on the other hand is never a good sign.

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Present actively and immediately— Start with the finish – presentations that build slowly to a conclusion drive Americans mad.  Americans and Aussies want to be engaged and entertained. Dry powerpoint presentations about your company will not make connection. An active presentation that shows how you can solve a problem, add value or team up will attract and keep attention.

Brand

Make your presentations even faster— you can quickly bore Americans and Aussies – especially in America business is done at great speed. People feel time poor, stretched and become impatient. So – cut your message to the absolute essence, and you will succeed.

Silence is a warning sign— America does everything loud, and the Aussies are following. There is sound everywhere, TV’s are on, radio, computers, music all happening at once. Americans feel uncomfortable in silences and long pauses.

We’ve helped many Indian organisations communicate better with the west – and in every case it has been turn the presentation around, start with the problem and how you can add value. Any presentation beginning with “Let me outline the history of our company” is a recipe for failure in the west.

 

 

Finding the right words, the right you and making friends

Effective business leaders have the art of using the right words at the right time.

I like a combination of my grandmother and the Buddha for inspiration.

Grandma used to put it this way: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing.” This is a wise caution against being too critical of others. She would have liked this quote from the Buddha: “If you know anything that’s hurtful and untrue, don’t say it. If you know anything that’s helpful and untrue, don’t say it. If you know anything that is hurtful and true, don’t say it. If you know anything that is helpful and true, find the right time.”

This becomes an effective restraint against communication mistakes, but how can we project ourselves and connect with others?

Brand

By changing the way you see yourself, and changing the way others see you, your personal brand and real leadership can develop and inspire others.

The first big change is to accept that in a modern world it is not enough to be very good at what you do – whether your skill is a profession, science, IT, engineering, health, a trade, finance or consulting. In addition to being the best at what you do, you have to have an impact on those you serve and this comes down to improving your communication and leadership. In that way, you create a positive personal brand.

You can improve communication by studying how business communicates, but also making big advances if we combine this with the wisdom of the ages, with the thoughts of great thinkers and spiritual leaders.

One of the barriers is that we make assumptions about people that often turn out wrong. If we assume a person is not interested in us, we become tongue tied or stay away – it is the assumption that is the barrier.

There is an alternative and I could find no better source than this quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “Wherever I meet people, I always have the feeling that I am encountering another human being, just like myself. I find it is much easier to communicate with others on that level. If we emphasise specific characteristics, like I am Tibetan or I am Buddhist, then there are differences. But those things are secondary. If we can leave the differences aside, I think we can easily communicate, exchange ideas and share experiences.” This is a great soft skills lesson.HHDL quote

This western and eastern thought process was so beautifully developed by a western nun and great author in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Pema Chodron, who said: “When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.”

But this attitude needs to be combined with some of the communication lessons from corporate communication, showing how we can be more successful making new friends and lead by:

·      Listening to people

·      Speaking in ways they understand

·      Not being scared of being different

·      Creating something interesting to do

·      Making relationships fun

I know you can do it.

5 essentials to building business with India

There are 5 steps we should take to grow our trade ties with India.

Adopt a patient long term view

Focus on relationships

See beyond the politeness

Adapt to indirect communications

Realise that language and thinking are different

If we can adopt a caring, humble and inquisitive approach – learning cultural dexterity – we will build the relationships which are the key to success.

namaste

“The Pitch” – the next big thing for Indian students

What reality are students facing on graduation? Employers are impatient and demanding in job interviews, often starting with a blunt “Why should I hire you instead of all these other people?” and ending quickly if the answer is not convincing. This is particularly the case in India where almost half of the population is under 25.

On top of this, students who want to move into startups and new businesses will find financiers and advisors similarly impatient.

The reality for student graduates is they are entering a fast-moving world that demands to be convinced, right now. Can they do the convincing?

Repeated studies by employer groups suggest students are not at all convincing, not articulate, inexperienced in teamwork and show little leadership aptitude. How could they be, when most universities do not teach these skills?

Can we solve this problem? Can we create a generation of graduates who are job ready, who can hit the ground running?

The answer is “yes”, and the key to this is not so much the old fashioned soft skills training programs but it is found in the exciting world of “pitching”.

In the last quarter of 2017, several parties combined to conduct an Indian Student Employability Pilot Program in Melbourne. These included Australia India Business Council, ISANA International Education Association and my company EastWest Academy Pty Ltd.

The objective was to test whether a short intervention could add significant value to the students in terms of: Presentation skills (pitching); Interview techniques; Linked In profiles; CV’s.

The program included three group sessions plus interaction via WhatsApp, email and personal contact. To add real zest and motivation, the final session was an opportunity for the students to pitch to the board of ISANA International Education Association – a challenging but exciting prospect to convince influential leaders.

By focusing our intervention on a rapid program of developing a dynamic “pitch” for the forthcoming board meeting, the students had a clear goal, timeline and motivation.

Outcomes were exciting to experience. The pitches were competitive, with much improved clarity and pacing, slower speech and clear transmission of information. What was really exciting was the students quickly learned that any claim they make needs to be supported by proof – generally one additional sentence.

In addition, the presentation to the board was interactive and showed a good ability to handle tricky questions and effective use a two-part answer – if the question is about weakness, outline what that might be and then state what steps you have taken to improve. Or if about strengths, again, outline what that might be and then show proof of when you used that strength.

The key to this success was the excitement around “the pitch” – this is what the students wanted, they saw it could work for them and they put energy and skill into making high impact pitches. They are ready for the future.Never give up

10 things to know about modern India

  1. Successful and confident

Economic success has restored Indian confidence. Indian entrepreneurs are now recognized around the world and there is a national expectation that the next Bill Gates will be an Indian. This entrepreneurial spirit permeates the nation (most dream of becoming entrepreneurs) which is now confident.

economy

  1. Never forget rural people

Indian business and political leaders may live the urban lifestyles, but they do not forget the small towns and villages at the centre of rural life – and it’s not just the politicians with an eye for votes, with major corporates such as Infosys pouring resources and funding into village developments.

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  1. Avoid pointing the finger

India is a land of great cultural diversity, many languages and countless opinions, but two things unite the nation – cricket and the World Trade Organisation. Indians become instantly passionate when challenged on their high tariffs, especially if the challenge comes from the west. The message is, point the finger at India and you can expect a robust response.

  1. Oceans of patience

Indians have oceans of patience which can drive westerners crazy, but it gives them a special strength in negotiations. This patience is derived from deeply held spiritual views such as impermanence – Indians are constantly reminded of the impermanence of this life, everything changes, and they can wait when often we cannot. Who has the advantage in this negotiation?

  1. Not just an IT miracle

Do not be fooled with the view that the Indian economic miracle is just driven by call centres and IT. Important as these are, look also at insurance, energy, retail, clean technology, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture as areas where efficiency is producing startling results.

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  1. Dragon and elephant can dance

The dragon (China) and the elephant (India) have discovered that they can dance, and now China is India’s major trading partner. Competitors are becoming collaborators and western business leaders need to be aware that the Indians coming to negotiating tables will be leaders who confidently see that this century belongs to the east.ModiXi

  1. Not especially “Asian”

While India feels great about the success of “Asia”, in many ways it does not feel particularly “Asian”. First and foremost, Indians feel Indian, and to them that is vastly more relevant than being geographically part of Asia.

  1. Remember the “Father of the Nation”

Whether dealing with the young or the old, in India never forget the “Father of the Nation”, Mahatma Gandhi.

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  1. Equity up there with democracy

Partly because of Gandhi, Indian leaders are more concerned with equity than with spreading democracy around the world – and cannot understand the enthusiasm of the USA and its allies to champion democracy in unlikely locations.

  1. No junior partner

While many in the west still see India as a “developing” country and therefore a future player on the world stage, India has no intention of being a junior partner or a bit player in the world. Invite India in and you can expect them to want to be at the head of the table, making the running. This is a country whose time has come – and the people you deal with are highly aware of this.

Wipro wins biggest ever deal

Indian firm Wipro has won a more than $1.5 billion deal spread over 10 years from Illinois-based Alight Solutions LLC, achieving its largest ever contract. 

With this, the Bengaluru-headquartered software services exporter joins larger peer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in winning larger deals at a time when the outsourcing services industry is seeing a slowdown owing to emergence of digital services.

TCS bagged three such multi-year large deals totalling more than $5 billion in revenue since September 2017.

This is a big deal for Wipro’s new boss, Abidali Neemuchwala, who took over in February 2016.

wipro

“This deal will result in revenues of USD $1.5 to $1.6 billion for Wipro over the tenure (10 years). This is Wipro’s largest win to date. This engagement will enable the digital transformation of Alight’s offerings across health, wealth, HR and finance solutions,” said Wipro in a statement, adding that it would “enhance the employee experience of Alight’s clients by leveraging Wipro’s solutions in digital technologies, cognitive automation and data analytics.

“This is a testimony to the capabilities we have built through our strategic investments in Wipro Digital, cloud platforms and cognitive platform Wipro HOLMES. We will leverage this expertise to digitalize and modernize Alight’s core across platforms, technologies and operations,” Neemuchwala was quoted in the statement.

Wipro also said it has completed the transaction to acquire Alight HR Services India Pvt Ltd, the India arm of Alight Solutions.