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How Australia woos Indian Inc

July 03, 2009 14:54 IST

It's not just Indians who are careful before packing their bags for Australia. Australians, too, are enrolling for etiquette classes to learn of surefire ways to impress Indians.

Praise Sachin to the hilt, avoid discussions on Slumdog Millionaire and ignore all possible holdups like ringing phones while in a business conversation: these among others are some of the tips by Melbourne-based consultant Stephen Manallack, who has trained many Australian corporates wishing to do business with Indian companies.

The trainer believes knowing the culture of the people one does business with can be helpful, and even more so when the country is dependent on export income from education and resources. Appreciating the cultural differences can turn the table.

"While the relationship is important in Australia, it is central in India," he says.

"Australian business leaders find that building business links is more time consuming in India, where you need to double check to ensure you have the fullest picture -- then be prepared for surprises as you implement. The ability to change and be flexible about an otherwise 'set-in-concrete' programme is highly respected in India," says Manallack.

It's important to appreciate the difference in workstyle too.

Manallack says while in Australia work style is entirely based on 'Do you view yourself primarily as an individual,' in most Indian companies, decision-making is a collective operation.

"Indian business at the operational level run on a model of minute-to-minute contact," he says, asking his client to be aware of the long time taken on a deal as a result of different work operations.

Loud and noisy scenes during business meetings are also common. 'Like Italians, Indians can be very noisy and sound argumentative, even when they are not. We advise business leaders to not worry if you have disagreements in a meeting -- so long as it ends with a warm consensus. It is vital that disagreement is followed by consensus," he suggests.

For Australians, this can be challenging as their direct and blunt ways may offend their counterparts in India. Being critical of the boss is also a 'big no,' according to the expert. "It is vital to talk positively about your boss and describe his or her achievements," Manallack says.

"Similarly, you should be able to create the best word picture of your organisation. Why would they choose your organisation if you do not show total joy and commitment to what you do?" he asks.

Indians and Australians also view 'time' differently, according to Manallack.

"An Indian counterpart would see the past, present and future as interrelated. This approach to time explains why we are always rushing about, completing one meeting and rushing to the next, while your Indian host seems relaxed, not in a rush, dealing with many other things while meeting with you, and so on," Manallack points out.

He also prepares his clients for long meetings with even longer periods of silence and many other distractions like signing files, letters and frequent interruptions.

"Go with the flow, pause and start again," he suggests.

And if the counterparts line up meeting with their superior, then it's a clear indication that all your hard work of sitting through those long, pauses and noisy meetings has paid off.

It's a sign of acceptance, says Manallack. It's important not to hurry at this stage as it can lead to closing up a deal on positive note.

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