Cultural similarities: India and Latin America – Indirect communication

by Dave

One other similarity in cultural style across India and LatAm is indirect communication – not being totally straight with people. People tell you what they think you expect to hear. This can translate into a difficulty saying no or delivering bad news. Because relationships are important, people sometimes go all out to avoid hurting feelings.

Face-saving is important. You cannot simply say whatever you think especially when there is significant disagreement. Maintaining harmony is essential. The best way to resolve conflicts is by stepping away and getting some breathing room and possibly relying on trusted intermediaries or third parties.

You have to observe body language and cannot rely on words only. As a result, while dealing with people in these cultures, over-reliance on emails could be a problem. If face to face meetings are not possible, a web video conference and then a phone call are the next best options.

The word “Yes” typically means “I hear you”, “I understand what you’re saying” and not necessarily “I agree with you”, “I will do exactly as you say”. A message can be ignored if the status of the messenger is not appropriate.

From my experience, people in LatAm tend to be more indirect than U.S. Americans/Germans but less indirect than Indians. Within LatAm, people from southern Brazil and Argentina (with Northern
European influences) are more direct than people from Mexico. Of course, there are variances to be expected across demographic (youth, seniors) and class (lower-income and upper-income) groups.