India Business Culture

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India is a culturally rich and diverse country where one can see varied array of language, religion, caste and regionalism. While doing business in India, every organization has to consider all these factors before formulating their business plans and take necessary actions accordingly. The India Business Culture is an extension of the common culture of the society. It is unique in its own way. However, in Indian business culture, the behavior, etiquette and approach of organizations and its professionals change according to the addressee and the context of address.


India is a multilingual country with each of its states having different official languages. However, Hindi is the only officially recognized language in the country. While talking on India business culture, English is the most preferred language, which is followed religiously in every industry.

Meetings, Greetings and Courtesies

In India, people greet each other by saying 'Namaste', while conjoining the palms together below the chin (position of fingers would point up) and nodding the head. One can also do this while saying good-bye. Use of the namaste will show that you have understandings of Indian culture. While greeting superiors or showing respect to someone, a slight bow is added.

In Indian business culture, people also greet each other by a handshake. In a one-to-one meeting with a male counterpart, a woman usually initiates a handshake. If the woman doesn’t, the man will smile and nod slightly.

While greeting an individual, people use appropriate formal title. One can also add ‘ji’ after the title to show respect for the person he/she is greeting.

While meeting a person or client for business purpose, always exchange business cards at the first meeting. You must exchange the cards with your right hand only. Cards must be put away with due respect.

Relationship Building

In India business culture, business development largely depends upon relationship building. Indians tend to give favorable deal to those whom they know and trust. Hence, a good way to earn business is to earn the trust of the customers first. You can earn the trust of people by demonstrating strong business insight, showing honesty and respect.


Any business meeting has to be arranged well in advance. These have to be fixed in writing and confirmed by phone. It is better to avoid fixing meetings on or near national holidays like Independence Day, Republic Day, Gandhi Birthday or either of the two Eids. People often club their leaves to enjoy extended holidays during this time.


Indians value punctuality in others, but they often lag behind the schedule themselves. A 10-minute late is acceptable in most of the cases. It can also be seen that family responsibilities getting preferences over business, which leads to last minute cancellation of meetings, though not quite often.

Inside the Meeting Room

After entering into the meeting room, one must approach and greet the senior-most figure first. Every meeting usually has some 'getting to know you' process, where the meeting starts with some initial conversation. The favorite topics are business news, how stock market is doing, or the game of cricket. It is good to avoid discussing personal matters. If you are new to India, it is always better to refrain from commenting on volatile issues like poverty or beggars.


If your business meeting involves negotiation, be prepared for a slow process. In India business culture, decision is taken at the highest level and may take more time than one would have expected. You can’t get a favorable decision unless you can establish the trust of the client. Until the trust is not established, you should concentrate on building a rapport with the client. As the decision is taken at the highest level, absence of the any higher-position holder like Director or owner indicates that it is only the early stage of negotiation.


Statistics, empirical data or commendable PowerPoint presentation cannot solely influence the business decision. Indians tend to reckon the intuitions, feelings and faiths before they reach at any decision. You must show your patience and good character before any final verdict comes out. You cannot afford to show frustration or anger.


One should refrain from putting high pressure tactics while negotiation with the clients. Do not confront or be forceful. If you are to disagree or criticize, you need to do it in the most diplomatic language. Indians do not say "no" directly, as it is often considered rude. If during the negotiation process, you come to the terms like "We'll see", "possibly" or "We'll try", there is every possibility that they are indicating a 'no'.

Business Attire

Business culture in India demands formal attire. Men usually wear formal shirts and pants. Suits or Blazers are also quite worn, often during the winter. Women wear saris or suits. On the last working day of the week, people often wear casuals. However, that has to be a decent one.