Business / Industry Sectors
Bridging the gap in cross-border communication
Why having local consultants and representatives will ease your path

Despite the now long years of interaction between Israeli and Indian companies, there are still gaps in communication between the two sides.  And this despite all the goodwill that exists and desire to further business and commercial ties. In the meanwhile, a considerable amount of good work has been done by emissaries and representatives of the respective governments to streamline matters. Embassies, Consulates, Chambers of Commerce, semi-Governmental organizations and consultants have contributed substantially to better understanding and smoother facilitation. They have indeed proved to be good integrators and go-betweens.



And they have worked at different levels – setting up various inter-governmental agreements of cooperation, setting different joint committees on such trade facilitation, finalizing tax agreements to facilitate transactions, planning and organizing of exhibitions and trade shows, seminars and conferences – all with the participation of experts on both sides.



In the 22 years of diplomatic ties between Israel and India, perhaps more such interactions and joint programs have been conducted than between Israel and most other countries.



While there is mutual confidence, there have still been some disappointments and unfulfilled expectations and the two sides need to take stock of the situation, a bit of a time-out and approach the objectives with renewed vigor.



As Facilitators and Business Consultants, we find that there is often still a gap in communications. Generally, Israeli companies expect quick responses to mails and proposals, while Indian companies may have considerations they may not want to express openly, while Israeli companies may give you a quick yes / no. The fact that an Indian company has not responded quickly is not an indication that it is not interested. It may simply be considering the proposal internally.



It is equally important to maintain cordial and polite modes of communication at all times. And this would also apply if you feel aggrieved that the other side is not maintaining a relationship with you of the kind that you are expecting. Many a successful business person has told us that they 'never burn bridges', no matter what.




Another common error is to try to do everything by oneself. Israeli businesses would be well advised to use the services of local consultants as they are familiar with the nuances involved in communications with Indian counterparts. They would also have a 'feel' for the place, understand the local lingo and be able to assess the situation on the ground in a far more effective way that Israeli business.




So often have Israeli companies come a cropper, trying to understand their counterparts. Since, most large businesses in India are family-owned, with a strict hierarchical order in place; they are by nature conservative in their approach.




The other aspect one needs to take into account while dealing with the Indian market is its non-uniform structure. While people from the southern parts have certain characteristics, these may not blend with those from other parts. Even within a region there can be lack of uniformity. So unless you are very familiar with a region, one could make mistakes in communication. A local consultant could help you iron out these paths.




Credit: Abraham Yehuda.

* The author is a business facilitator and consultant with widw experience in both Israel and India. He works exclusively on the Israel-India track and is the co-publisher of Israel-India Business Guide. 





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