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.

alexander

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.

guru

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.

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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