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The Indian Yes

by Brandi Moore on February 13, 2007

What is the Indian “Yes”?

Indian’s like to agree.  They prefer not to displease, instead selecting to answer in the affirmative.  This is a huge cultural insight that you must keep front of mind when working inside an international relationship.

Indians tend to feel uncomfortable contradicting another person making it likely that if they perceive bias or a particular preferred response, they will provide it. The desire to say yes is rooted in India’s high levels of collectivism, power distance, and the influence of hierarchy inside organizations.  In other words, they work for the good of the group by promoting a positive message, avoiding conflict with superiors who do not offer an open forum for discussions.

What does this mean to you?  Yes does not signify understanding. Confirm all yes’s.  Do not ask questions that result in yes answers such as “will the project be done on time.” Instead ask detailed probing questions the elicit more information than yes.  Think of yes as an affirmation instead of a positive response.

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