ADAPTING COMMUNICATION PRACTICES
Effective communication is the key element to achieve success in any business. It is more so, for businesses who wish to expand to foreign countries which have language and cultural norms that differ vastly from their own. Thus, for America based martial arts company, Shield we have analyzed the following communication problems that may arise if they expand their trade to Delhi India.
India is cauldron of almost 461 languages, out of which 22 are regarded as the official languages of India (“Languages in India”, 2016). Delhi, the capital territory of India, is home to a population of 19.89 million among which 81% speak in Hindi (Language of New Delhi, n.d.). English is also widely spoken; however, it is mostly restricted to official purposes. Along with these, the influence of certain ethnic groups has also spread the prevalence of other dialects like Punjabi (7%) and Urdu (6%) (Language of New Delhi, n.d.).
Even though English appears to be the second most spoken language in Delhi, the way it is spoken, in both usage and accent, is far different from the American English. There are several reasons for this and one of them is that people there use certain words or phrases that differ from its traditional use in English language (Govindarajan & Bagla,2015). Although this form of derivative English may make complete sense to the Delhi inhabitants, it can become very perplexing for foreign companies like Shield to parse its meaning. Furthermore, they also use many expressions that are culturally derived which just raises the language barrier for Shield.
There is also another factor to consider while analyzing the usage of English in Delhi and that is the majority people there tends to understand simple English rather than complex English (Govindarajan & Bagla,2015). Thus, to ensure effective and efficient communication where both participants completely understand each other, Shield should communicate in simple and easy English.
The best way to resolve this language barrier would be for Shield to hire bi-lingual or multi-lingual interpreters (Rampton,2015). This will not only help Shield to understand and develop better relations with their consumer base but also help the trainers they will hire from various parts of the world to resolve their own communication issues.
Hand Gestures and Body Movement
Human beings communicate a lot more with their expressions, movements and gestures than with their words. The way a person uses their hands and body to communicate and the meaning they want to convey may vary drastically between different nations and cultures. The forms of greetings that are quite the norm in America can turn out to be meaningless or at worse rude to the people in India. Thus, its pertinent for Shield to be knowledgeable about these factors and adapt their communication style accordingly.
While both Indians and Americans shake their hands as a way of greeting, Indians prefer to give a softer handshake in order to convey emotions of friendliness and respect (“Business Culture in India”, 2015). Other than that, Indians may even use their common salutation called Namaste, where they press their palms and give a courteous bow. There is also another important fact to be wary of and that is to accept things like business cards with the right hand as using the left hand is a sign of disrespect (“Business Culture in India”, 2015).
Unlike the West, a lot of people in India are still not comfortable with the concept of close interaction between the opposite gender. So certain things that may seem normal to Americans like a simple handshake with someone of our opposite gender, will be uncomfortable with a lot of people in India where men and women like to maintain a broader distance between themselves (“Doing Business in India”, 2010).
High Context versus Low Context Culture
America is considered a low- context culture where everything is explained explicitly and in a frank manner (Williams, n.d.). However, India is a high- context culture where a lot of things are implied rather than said outright and people tend to talk in a round about manner that may seem deceptive to those outside of their culture (“Business Culture in India”, 2015). But their intent is far from deception as they communicate in this indirect manner only to show respect to the other party and in fact they are quite uncomfortable with the blunt way in which the West communicates (Govindarajan & Bagla,2015). This often leads to discontent among the parties as the Indians will consider the Americans as rude and the Americans in turn will consider Indians as secretive.
The solution to this conflict as Vijay Govindarajan, an eminent professor in Dartmouth’s Truck school of Business, advises is to include team members who are adept at indirect communication (Govindarajan ; Bagla,2015). Shield can include some locals in their personnel in order to better understand the people in Delhi and resolve any communication discrepancies.
Since India is a country that is deeply rooted in the caste system particularly due to the prevalence of Hinduism the concept of social hierarchy is very important to them (Maclachlan,2010). Both in workplace ad in society at large roles are defined and the subordinates are expected to maintain the utmost respect and obedience towards their superiors, especially by addressing them with the title Sir/Madam or Mr./Ms. (“Business Culture in India”, 2015).
Also, for conveying important matters it is always expected that one should turn to the superiors in an organization rather than the subordinates and engage the person in friendly small talk to build a friendly relation rather than jumping head first into the matter at hand (Maclachlan,2010). For western companies like Shield, it is at times confusing to understand their complex social structure , however to have a successful expansion it is incumbent upon them to do so .
America is considered to be monochronic culture which means the people there like to punctual and orient their lives and all that they have to do around the limited time they have (Lewis,2013). At the other end of the spectrum India is a polychronic society n that they are laxer regarding punctuality and change their tasks depending on their priorities rather than the time needed(Maclachlan,2010). And so, when American companies decided to expand to India they are bound to face problems regarding time management as they would maintain their time to the dot while the other party would either be a bit late or early. Shield can tackle this issue by building cultural awareness and training their employees so different methods can be developed to deal with it or resolve it (Rowe, 2017)