Every culture is different in terms of time management. For instance, people in specific cultures or countries can be naturally not punctual. Therefore when you are in another country (especially in India) for a business meeting, you should possess all the available knowledge in order to know how to behave yourself and not to get confused or frustrated if someone happens to be late for a meeting.
The entire Indian culture is more easygoing in terms of schedules than Western cultures are. Appointments often run late, and once the meeting started it may not follow the pre-agreed agenda. It is very normal for meetings to start a few minutes late or have some interruptions and this should not be considered a sign of disrespect.
The Indian culture has a slower, simple pace when it comes to business and many Indians reckon that schedules are required to be flexible in order to accommodate different people’s timetables. Thus, it is advisable to keep a margin in your schedules for unexpected delays such as meetings running late or traffic jams. Furthermore, if you are visiting government officials, be prepared to be kept waiting.
There are 3 main steps when running a meeting in India:
1 Planning a meeting
- If you travel to India from abroad, I advise you to make an appointment by letter, at least one or two months beforehand
- You should also confirm your meeting a week before and call again in the morning of the day of the meeting because they can be cancelled at the last minute.
- The best part of the day for a meeting is late morning or early afternoon
- Always send a detailed agenda in advance. This way, everyone will be able to review it and be comfortable with the material before the meeting
- Always make sure that your schedule is flexible
2 During the meeting
- Meeting will begin with a small talk followed by a cup of coffee or tea.
- Never refuse the food or drink, because it is considered to be rude
- Do not get frustrated if the meeting is continually interrupted by visitors or phone calls
- It is quite possible that no business will be discussed at the first meeting
- Do not lose control of your feeling, because you don’t want to lose your face when meeting your Indian counterparts
3 Following the meeting
- Document everything that is said during the meeting
- If you want to meet the deadlines, make sure everyone knows what is expected to be done
- Make an overview of the meeting, i.e. what was discussed and what are the next steps
And last but not least, you should always try to be punctual (even considering the more ‘relaxed’ Indian culture). Believe me that you will impress them by doing so. And remember that because of Indian heavy traffic, there are always delays and explanations like delays in buses, trains, flights and etc. So try to adapt to this laid-back attitude with time, if you do not want to get frustrated about it.
Do you want to know how to run meetings and projects in North American and European cultures, Latin and Arab cultures and Asian cultures?
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3 Perceptions of Time That Can Make or Break Your Project
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