Indian Culture

Business Culture

Primary Author
Chara Scroope,


  • People enter a meeting in order of importance, with the highest-ranking person arriving first and so on. The same goes for introductions.
  • When receiving a business card, use both hands (or the right hand only). Do not put the card away immediately, but instead take a moment to examine it carefully and then place it before you on the table when you are seated. Do not put it in the back pocket of your pants as this could be taken as you sitting on the other person's face. Similarly, do not write on someone's card unless directed to do so.
  • When presenting a business card, use both hands (or the right hand only), making sure that the writing is facing the other person. If you have a university degree, include that information on the card.
  • Take time to get to know your business partner, allowing for a casual conversation to begin a meeting.
  • Expect some meetings or discussions to be conducted over dinner or drinks.
  • In India, the highest-ranking person makes the final decisions. Therefore, if the owner or director of the company is not present, it is likely that you are still engaged in early negotiations and will not reach a final agreement at this meeting.

Relationship Oriented

Personal relationships play a significant role in Indian business culture. Third-party introductions are almost a necessity as Indians prefer to work with those whom they know and trust. For them, trust is the key to good business, and they will be looking for an honest commitment to the relationship from you. Their business networks are often comprised of relatives and peers as guarantees trust.

They only want to expand their networks with partners they can rely on. Hence, they tend to want to know a great deal about their partners to build the loyalty and trust needed to support business in the future. You may consider some of the questions asked to be irrelevant or too personal, but try to be patient and answer their questions for the sake of the business relationship.

If you lose your temper, you may lose their trust in doing business with you. All matters of disagreement or conflict should be dealt with in the most diplomatic manner possible. If you offend your business partner, do not ignore the fact that you did so as this will likely jeopardise your relationship with them. If you are unsure of what to do, it is a good idea to have your supervisor apologise on your behalf.


  • Be patient with negotiations as they can progress much slower than what Australians are used to. 
  • Your Indian partner may be more flexible to negotiate and compromise between meetings when they are in a position to check with their superior.
  • They often try to reach a price or figure indirectly after elaborating all the benefits of the deal.
  • When proposing negotiations of a deal, Indians will often remain polite throughout, and then enthusiastically repackage the deal to reach an agreement before it escapes them.
  • Considerations
  • Workplaces in India are hierarchical, based on age and position. 
  • Most Indians do not feel comfortable speaking in a , frank manner with those they do not have a strong relationship with. Therefore, expect , circuitous communication to occur to reach an agreement or deal.
  • They dislike rejecting business but will do so if it means future gain.
  • In India, the polite way to say no is to say, "I'll see what I can do", or something to that effect, no matter how impossible the task may be. After they have been queried several times concerning their success, an answer of "I'm still checking" or something similar means "no". Such an response also means "I am still your friend/ally, I tried". Therefore, be as transparent as possible with the questions in order to receive a clear yes or no answer (but, be cautious in doing this, or you will harm the relationship).
  • It is common for senior members of a meeting to take phone calls. However, it is considered rude for juniors to follow this practice.
  • If you would like to contact your Indian counterpart through a phone call, it is usually best to call 10am onwards but no later than 9pm in the evening.
  • Everything is subject to change in India, so Indians can regard contracts more as agreements of willingness to do business. The actual specifications of limitations and regulations of a deal are negotiable depending on the business relationship. Try to be flexible – as they are – and be aware that a request for a more comprehensive document could jeopardise trust.
  • On the (2017), India ranks 81st out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 40 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is somewhat corrupt.

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