Managers and leaders of the future need good global manners, now more than ever!
As a culture, we don’t really learn global etiquette. Because of the way our society is still largely structured, we don’t see the need for universal courtesy. We as Indians are still not far removed from the strictly regimented feudal system (Zamindari) or the immediately post-independence “Government” established. And it worked fine for about 70 years. However, it makes us dysfunctional and maladjusted in the new globalized and e-centric corporate world order. It’s bad enough here at home, where socioeconomic changes have blurred the old boundaries of categorization, replacing them with new and as yet unknown categories of class and professionalism. But it becomes an absolute handicap when traveling abroad, working abroad or dealing with foreign colleagues/friends/superior in India, something that the young managers of today and the leaders of the future must do more and more.
Traditionally, the modes of behavior of each section of society, with respect to ascending and descending social relations, were strictly defined. Lateral social behavior was generally left to the individual. But since lateral social relationships were almost entirely confined within the circles of family, extended family, and business, it was no big deal. There was no need to pay special attention to courtesy and manners, and all the necessary guidelines were easily provided by the “how to behave with those older/younger than you” rules. When the circles expanded, to include not only non-community and non-family members, but also non-nationals or ex-nationals, things changed and suddenly the label started to matter. Today, one of the main factors preventing Indian employees from breaking the international glass ceiling is global manners.
However, there was not and is not any formal etiquette training at the school level. These new laws of global social behavior are also not taught at home. As a result, most of us make many mistakes. Some of us have rubbed shoulders with international environments long enough to realize how important etiquette is. So, they try to learn on their own, from various sources, including soft skills classes. However, most still don’t seem to care or bother. Not only can this ruin the impression they give and deprive them of global opportunities, but it also brings a bad name to the entire “Indian” community around the world, negatively affecting the prospects of future generations.
So what are we doing wrong? It can be as basic as not knowing when to use Hello versus Hello. For example, most “me-type” Indians have given up greeting altogether, even in formal situations. While this is usually approved in the local context, in the case of a foreign posting, interview, etc., it can ruin the impression. hello is for friends, intimate circles, family, informal situations. In an interview, or when you are introduced to someone “important”, hello is not enough! Hello is the only greeting for formal or important occasions.
We also do not have a concept of basic etiquette when someone asks “how are you” or “how are you”. How many people realize that “how are you” isn’t a question in the first place? If someone says “how are you” it’s a greeting… like hello… they’re not asking about your health or life status, so don’t tell them. The correct answer is “how are you?”. If someone says it, you say it back. On the other hand, if someone says “how are you” or “how are you,” you respond with “I’m fine/great/fine, thanks.” Nor is it an invitation to dump your problems on the researcher. It’s just formality.
With our feudal heritage, another thing we never learned was to say please and thank you. The lower orders are CREATED to serve the higher orders, so where is the matter of thanking them? Therefore, we are generally very rude and coarse people. We never say please when we place an order for food, for example, or thank the waiter for bringing us the water, or the food, or anything. After all, we rationalize, it’s your job! Well, etiquette doesn’t care if it’s their job, if someone does something for you, however trivial, you thank them; if you WANT someone to do something for you, no matter how trivial, you say please.
Let’s not forget the famous Indian standard time syndrome. We just don’t seem to understand the concept of punctuality. And, although being late to a party or out with friends may not be that serious (although it is unbearably rude, especially if it is a recurring phenomenon), the same arrogant attitude over time, in the case of a meeting or for an interview, it can have serious effects on your career and overall reputation. The immense amount of irritation it will create where you have to wait will do nothing good for your life or career. Whether it’s the traffic, the inability to get dressed quickly, or whatever, plan ahead. It’s a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes early instead of five minutes late.
There are other things to practice. Simple things, like holding the door for someone. Or the ability to calmly queue for anything! Given any situation where an orderly queue is required, be it at a ticket counter, the bank, the bus stop, or wherever, Indians will invariably try to get to the counter at once, or at least look over their shoulder. of others and they will press. forward to get a better view of the proceedings, thereby subjecting others to not only jostling and body odour, but also considerably slowing down the basic process itself. And by international standards of polite social behavior, invading another person’s space in such a way is an absolute NO-NO!
Wait a few seconds to let older people or people with disabilities pass. Offer your seat to an elderly person, a pregnant woman or a person with different abilities, on a bus or on a train. Practice basic table and social manners. Do not push, sneeze, cough, burp and belch in public and if you do, cover your mouth and apologize. Don’t chew food with your mouth wide open, or pick scraps of chicken from between your teeth with a toothpick, without feeling the slightest need to cover the open hole. In a supermarket, park your carts out of the way and not in the middle of the aisle while you browse the shelves on either side. Do not block the entire stretch for others. Don’t let children run loose, bumping into people, carts, and shelves, and pushing attendees against a wall. Blocking off an entire shelf while six people participate in a “family conference” about which brand of coffee to buy is rude. If you don’t reach over people’s shoulders, or under their arms, to grab things. In restaurants, keep your voice down, don’t let children run around behaving egregiously, and control the decibel blast while having a phone conversation. Turn off your phones or put them on silent in a movie theater or theater show.
Don’t be nosy and too familiar. A French friend of mine, a woman of a certain age, always found it extremely offensive when Indians, after half an hour of meeting, asked her why she hadn’t married yet and if she was dating. This is a common problem. Culturally, we place so much importance on marriage and have so few boundaries that we don’t realize how personal such an issue is to the rest of the world. A close friend might ask such a question, but not a passing acquaintance or someone in a more formal social situation! Along the same lines, a couple, married for about four years, always complained that everyone not only asked why they didn’t have children, but also assumed there was a problem and offered a lot of unwanted advice. The idea that a couple “chooses” to wait a while before procreating, or “chooses” not to have children, seems to be something we cannot understand and must learn to back away from.
The list is practically endless, so many little things that we do unconsciously, due to our total lack of familiarity with the principle of courtesy and basic civic sense, but they all affect the way people around the world look at us, treat us and they feel around. us. Apparently small, minuscule things can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the visitor or foreign colleague. It ranges from the way we speak, what we say, to body language and “nosing”. Considering that India is trying its best to become a world power, and Indians are becoming more and more “unconfined”, this simply won’t work! As young managers and leaders of tomorrow in a global work culture in a shrinking world, it’s time to pay some attention to how we present ourselves to the world and how we interact with its members. So do your research, pay attention and learn. Consciously perform good etiquette until it becomes second nature. That’s the only way to succeed in a globally connected world!