Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Steps to an easy crossing to -This Side of the Pond:

(Inspired by Thomas Kennedy’s post on effectively managing and leading global and virtual project teams.)

Chicken Crossing Road Royalty Free Stock Vector Art Illustration
 1. Don ’t worry so much about working with us. We have centuries of experience dealing with foreigners.  Persians, Turks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British, French; they’ve all been here, had fun, made lots of money. So will you.  And this time around, so will we.  

2. You find our accents terrible.   We understand.  We find some of our regional and non-metro accents somewhat “difficult” too.  Indeed, some of our accents are so strong, that no amount of emerying by the best convent schools can get rid of them.  (We suggest that if a task doesn’t need speaking why insist on vendors speaking accent-less English?)

Incidentally, we find some of your accents and slang incomprehensible too. So, do speak slowly and follow up with a written communication which will ensure that everyone concerned is on the same page. 

3. As mysterious as a “lassi” is, to many of you, Budweisers are to us.  When you refer to Big Nick- we may not realize that you’re referring to a burger joint and not to a person. And when you say Snocat, surely you mean a leopard in the Himalayas?  If you’re talking about something peculiar to your country, many of us may never have heard of it so don’t leave us to guess what it is.  Make it a point to explain what you’re talking about.

4.     We turn our nights into days for you.  But dawn can be a killing time.  Literally. Try to wind up before 3 a.m. (OUR time)

5.    If you’re not tech savvy just say so at the beginning.  We’ll hold your hand and lead you through. Do not wait, hoping for enlightenment until we’re well into our spiel and THEN say you’re not.

6.   A sense of humor is not our strong point, and on conference calls particularly, we may not realize that you’re kidding.  So if you do happen to be in a funny mood, make sure everyone is laughing.

7.   Do not mention underwear, yours or anyone else’s when in a conversation with Indian colleagues. Just don’t.  And don’t say you don’t. You do.

8.   Indians irrespective of religion, tribe and caste, think it extremely bad mannered to eat without inviting anyone around, guest, stranger or servant, to eat too. Do not bite into that sandwich without asking your Indian colleague whether he’d like some. Rest assured, you will not have to share your meal.  Every Indian knows that such invitations are just ‘observing the niceties’ and would never dream of accepting, no matter how hungry they are.

9.   We love long complicated ceremonies, getting married takes us weeks, we have dozens of festivals. Get clarity on which holidays are absolutely indispensable to this side of the pond and which are not, in the beginning of the year itself.  Just so you can manage timelines efficiently.

10.   We know all the 4-letter words and use them too.  But it’d be nice not to see them in mails even if they’re not meant for anyone in particular.

Hey, even if you don’t follow any of the above, you’ll still have a wonderful crossing.  Enjoy!