Posts tagged Business Line
Getting over the unease when we step out of our comfort zone
Overseas projects, out-of-country kickoff meetings, responsibilities that transcend national boundaries — the new Indian manager is going places. Professionally, we Indians can be confident about being able to hold our own against any other nationality with our language skills and technical expertise. But many of us, when we step outside our comfort zones, experience a sense of unease. We find that things we take for granted in our own environments are simply not present in the new one. We discover that there’s a whole new set of rules for the game, but there’s no one to give us the rule book.
Over the years, numerous Indian managers, exposed to a Western work-cum-social milieu have, at our workshops, asked questions on ‘Being Upworldly Mobile’ — on topics that most business establishments and B-schools don’t seem to spend time on. I share here a list of FAQs and the responses we have to offer. I have mentioned the US as a case study, but most advice works for other Western nations too:
In India, relationship building at work and socially is very important — I know Americans are transaction-oriented and not people-oriented — what are some tips for good relationship building?
Take interest in their interests. Learn a sport they all rave about, a holiday that is coming up and how they celebrate it. Read their newspapers and watch their TV shows. Talk about what they’re currently talking about. An interesting conversationalist helps build relationships.
Also, it helps if you can run errands together or share tasks in and out of work. Car-pooling is a good relationship-builder, sharing the chore of grocery shopping could also lead to bonding.
Most of all cultivate a sense of humour and be able to laugh at yourself. Americans like light banter and humour.
Finally, make the effort to be knowledgeable about India to explain via facts and figures in bite sized pieces. Americans like to learn from those who are succinct.
Three things that I can do in the US that will make me a success:
Don’t promise or say “yes” for something unless you are absolutely sure you can do it!
Be proactive about raising questions or issues if you see likely challenges or delays at work
Observe how they behave and communicate and adapt to succeed.
What is the etiquette to be followed at the coffee station or in the use of the microwave?
Queuing is sacrosanct.
Leaving the microwave as clean as you found it is good etiquette.
Not eating pungent Indian food would be wise in a common microwave area
Water cooler conversations are usually light and non-substantial but are important to build rapport and to participate is good etiquette. Examples would be your plan for the weekend, or a film you ‘caught’ recently. Unlike the frequent extended breaks we seem to take in India, in the West breaks are infrequent, short bursts and filled with small talk for rapport building.
What happens if I spill coffee and the house staff are not available to clean up the mess? What is the right thing to do then?
People in the US do it themselves. Take paper towels and mop it up yourself.
If you can’t find a cleaning aid, apologise to people close by and ask how you should clean up.
I had a Bulgarian intern who replaced a saucer for a guest when she noticed a bit of a coffee spilt on it. The guest greatly appreciated her attentiveness though it was not her job. Whatever you do, don’t just hope no one saw you or that someone else will deal with it. It might be considered callous, and brand “all Indians” as messy!
When invited to someone’s house in India, we never go empty handed. Is it the same in the US? What would be appropriate gifts?
This courtesy works in most countries. Wine, chocolates, flowers, something small from India — maybe silk scarves or ties. Or, even the ubiquitous carved Indian elephant would be a nice touch. Arrive on time, give the neatly wrapped gift after you enter the home, to the hostess.
When making small talk is it correct to ask about family? What can I talk about and what should I avoid?
Be friendly but don’t attempt to talk intimately about family. For small talk, it is better to stick to the subjects of food, sport, weather, vacation travel. Family can be a topic only if they bring it up first, although you can offer a little bit of information about your family to start of. If they reciprocate with information about theirs, then show interest in their family too.
Avoid talking about wars and sensitive subjects between India and their country, like outsourcing bans by President Obama or race issues.
How come they leave work at 5:30 sharp? We never do that.
They work hard and play hard. They make a clear distinction between efficiency and time spent. Unlike us, they don’t let personal time interfere with professional time. So they come to work and leave exactly on time. Theirs is a culture that works to live. We in India, on the contrary, might be veering towards living to work; we take several breaks, are relaxed about finishing, have no problem mixing the professional and personal. So we are ready to stretch our time too. But do we stretch efficiency, is the question to ask ourselves. In India, a good employee is often one who is willing to work late, while in the West it would be the person who meets deadlines.
Are there any cultural tips for building a team in the US?
Competition is healthy and inter-team rivalry is considered good. So playing one group against the other builds motivation. Incentive schemes work well too, so plan some, and watch your team perform!
Ranjini Manian is Founder CEO of Global Adjustments, a relocation and cross-cultural services company. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 21, 2012 - Link to online text
Creating empowered global women
It is important for male colleagues to be supportive of women if they are to be productive.
I am writing this piece from the Art of Living ashram, Bangalore, where I’m at an international women’s conference. I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel with Tessy Thomas, Director, Agni Missile Project, Natasha Gangaramani, Director, Al Fara’a Properties, and Anuradha Prasad, media personality and MD, BAG Films.
As we debated the topic of women and technology, the four of us talked of how technology has changed and impacted women’s lives across generations and social strata. One of the takeaways was the realisation that the ability to harness technology to better our lives, while staying clear of enslavement and total dependence on it, depends on of how the woman perceives herself.
As I thought of that, it became clear that we all are, men and women alike, guilty of a subtle bias. It starts at the home, where there’s at least a small difference in expectations from a daughter and a son. Today, we give our daughters the best education along with our sons, but we view the responsibility of a daughter’s marriage and subsequent family life as a more significant milestone than that of a son. This is communicated to girls right from the beginning.
At co-educational institutions, our daughters are exposed to this unstated bias, though maybe in a different format. One young girl confided to me that in her mixed class in a professional college, many women lecturers tended to let the boys get away with things like inattention and submitting poorly prepared assignments, but came down heavily on the girls for even small misdemeanours. On the other hand, most male teachers adopted a condescending attitude to the girl students, and managed to convey the impression that they were wondering what they (the girls) were doing in a professional college!
I would have been tempted to dismiss this as an extreme example if I hadn’t come across a research paper by Dr Bernice R Sandler, a pioneer in gender equality in education, who listed instances of gender bias in Western educational institutions. She found that faculty members made eye contact with male students more often than they did with female ones. They were also more likely to know and use the names of men students. Besides, the women got asked fewer questions in class, and when they were questioned, they got the easier ones, the paper said — the implication being that their brains aren’t up to being taxed too much!
Such discriminatory input imperceptibly impacts a woman’s perception of herself. As Sandler writes, “Singly, these behaviours probably have little effect. But when they occur again and again, they give a powerful message to women: they aren’t as worthwhile as men nor are they expected to participate fully in class, in college, or in life at large.”
WOMEN AT WORK
Today, the talent gap means women have got to be included. But even at the workplace, women, no matter on which rung of the career ladder they stand, often ask themselves, “What can I do to please my parents/spouse/in-laws/children?” No harm in that question. In fact, I think it’s one we should all ask ourselves, regardless of being male or female. But it would be good if the woman balanced that question with another: “What can I do for myself, in order to contribute on a global scale?”
My co-panelists had all broken the pattern. Making Agni missiles together with a home was only possible with family support, explained Tessy Thomas, who told of her son being a responsible youngster, and how it had contributed to her success at work and at home. Being treated as the heir apparent, with marriage never being portrayed as an end in itself by her entrepreneur family, allowed Natasha to truly uphold the building business. Anupama has gifted an iPad to her cook, who is largely responsible for her family’s meals while she herself pursues her 16-hour-schedule. “He has used it to upgrade his skills and make himself a better cook” said Anupama, showcasing how she has harnessed technology to balance her professional and personal lives.
Family support and encouragement are imperative for a woman to achieve her full potential. But it is equally important for male colleagues to be supportive of women if they are to be productive both at home and globally. As a woman entrepreneur of 17 years handling an 80-per-cent-woman team at Global Adjustments, I have a wish list on how men could treat women in the workplace(See table). At the end of the day, as one woman participant in our recent programme on cross-cultural customer engagement wrote: “It is the woman who carries the baton of culture, and she can leverage technology today to do so.” On the 101st anniversary of International Women’s Day, let’s promise to believe in ourselves, and give each other the space to grow. The truth is men and women are like two feet, we need both to advance in the business realm, as in life.
Ranjini Manian is Founder CEO of Global Adjustments, a relocation and cross-cultural services company. She can be contacted at email@example.com
This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 7, 2012 - Link to online text
Ten Commandments for the returning NRI
by Ranjini Manian
An old friend, Akhila, e-mailed me from New York recently. She has been living in the Big Apple for the last twenty years, but is now making arrangements to move back to Chennai. She has been visiting her family here on and off, but a couple of weeks once in three or four years don’t prepare you for living in India. What, she asked, would be my advice to her on settling into a country that is, for all practical purposes, a ‘foreign’ land?
Akhila’s dilemma is shared by hundreds of NRIs who are moving back to India after years spent studying and working abroad. Since I’ve been asked many different versions of Akhila’s question, I thought I should share my thoughts on the subject with a wider audience.
So here I’ve put together Ten Commandments for the returning NRI. They relate not only to work – many of them will be coming here as New Managers – but also to day-to-day life.
1. You have changed. Accept it.
The Akhila who caught that flight out to New York twenty years ago will probably be unrecognizable to the Akhila of today. She must have been used to working in a close-knit team, where everyone knew everyone else, and their families too. On one hand paperwork would have had to be done in triplicate, and on the other, people would have accepted that results would come, all in good time, one just needed to be patient. But today, she’s a different person. She is result-oriented, on the fast track, and expects the same from colleagues. If Akhila has to get on in the new Indian business world, she needs to recognise these changes in herself, and work with them
2. India has changed. Accept that too.
In the same way, Akhila will find that the India she expects, where everything is cheap, and teams unquestioningly toe the line, is also a thing of the past. The new India is conscious of its quality and commands a fair price, knows its global role, and is working harder than the West to beat the West at its own game. Now, every minute is a deadline, and India works both by Indian Standard Time as well as American Time, both coasts included. But things still take longer to get fixed, collective responsibility continues as the norm, so patience is essential. .She is in between brown and white as an NRI and she has to realise that she has to err on the side of the expatriate.
3. The importance of Family has remained what it was. Respect it.
Some things haven’t changed. Families may be physically nuclear, but emotionally, India still lives in a joint set-up. Every decision has to be run past the elders, and it’s imperative to attend the funeral of a second cousin twice removed. Professionalism is important, but if Akhila learns to balance it with the demands of family ties, both for herself and for her new team, she’ll fit in faster.
4. Privacy and space now have a different meaning. Understand it.
Everyone has an opinion and will express it, even her child-rearing practices will be commented on. She just has to respectfully listen and quietly do only what she wants with the advice. Also, it will be useful to spend time with people but balance it with “me” time she’s used to.
5. Handling domestic help is an art. Re-learn it.
As a naturalised New Yorker, Akhila would have got used to doing things for herself, from driving to work to vacuuming her apartment. But in India, help is not only available, but essential if she’s to meet all her commitments and still remain sane. And handling domestic help and chauffeurs is an art she’ll need to re-learn. It’s worth it to spend some time observing how veterans handle staff. Be prepared to patiently guide staff to perform to new standards of housework. Actually, she should lower her standards; her blood pressure will follow suit. It will be impossible to get everything working 100%, but if she relaxes on this, the re-entry will be easier.
6. Friends and social circles need building. Start over.
With Facebook, Orkut and e-mail, chances are, Akhila would have stayed in touch with family and at least some friends. But virtual contact is a different ball game from actually fitting into social circles. Support groups are all-important, and she’ll find coping with her new environment that much easier if she’s able to re-establish ties with old friends, and find like-minded people to hang out with in her free time.
7. Your children are a-cultured. Rejoice in it!
Children will have a wonderful chance to strengthen Indian roots before they fly on global wings. They will be resilient. See how well they adapt to accent, weather, food and new friends! Learn to be like them, childlike and embracing things spontaneously.
8. It’s a new India of opportunities. Learn how to work, play and contribute to it.
Make time to get personal with your colleagues in and out of work. Balance connections with locals, expatriates and other NRIs. Join forces with local NGOs to do good back for India.
9. Don’t wallow in the past. Enjoy the present!
Of course, Akhila will miss many conveniences she enjoyed in New York, especially the ease with which paperwork moves. Even small things – a queue which isn’t a queue at all, but an unruly mob, for instance — may trigger ‘homesickness’, but my advice is, don’t wallow in nostalgia. There’s so much that India has to offer, which you won’t find anywhere else, affordable prices, childcare, temples and spirituality galore.) So stay focussed on enjoying what is on offer.
10. Go with the flow: Soon it will be time to move again.
This time in India is special and if Akhila takes too long adapting and adjusting in the re entry phase, she may regret it as her three-year assignment flies by and she has to head back to New York. As Navjit Brar of Fujitsu wrote us from Texas: ”I am glad I spent time doing the cultural experience modules of dance, music appreciation and understanding festivals with my kids at the India Immersion Center. Those form our dinner table conversations as we pine for India again.”
Vijayadashmi is a special festival day in the Hindu calendar which is a very auspicious day for starting a new form of learning. Global Adjustments celebrated this year by starting something called Collective Wisdom.
In our training department, we are constantly trying to find ways to “upskill” young Indians to be prepared for the world. Issues like showing initiative, business writing, summarizing information, and many other things discussed in Upworldly Mobile sometimes don’t come easy. While we are passionate about seeing these skills instilled in young Indians, we also know that two heads are always better than one when it comes to the How.
Thus, we invited 10 thinkers to our India Immersion Centre to ask a few simple questions about one topic: Assertiveness. Moderated by Mr. Eric Gossard of Hospira, we examined the idea of what assertiveness is, how it fits in the Indian culture, and how to teach it to people. The event was extremely stimulating for those who attended: a mix of small business owners, students, trainers, professors and corporate heads.
As we continue to work towards making Global Citizens, it will take more than just one of us thinking. At Global Adjustments, we know that we need to rely on our “extended family” to reach this goal. Be on the lookout for more Collective Wisdom gatherings!
The Training Team
(Here’s a hint if you want to be invited for the next one: make sure to comment on Ranjini’s Business Line articles.)
I recently heard this real-life story: The Indian representative of a large company and a Japanese buyer were signing a big order at a special price. The Indian, let’s call him Mr Mehta, who had studied in an Ivy League school in America, had picked up some American mannerisms. After writing his name with a flourish, he made a hand signal to say ‘OK’ or ‘Super’, with the forefinger and thumb forming a circle in the air. For good measure, he tapped the Japanese on the knee and made the ‘great’ sign again. The next thing he knew, the Japanese buyer had called his Vice-President and spoke to him in a whisper. Then, an assistant told Mr Mehta the deal was off. The only explanation Mr Mehta got was: Okanewa dame — which translates as “money is not acceptable”. In Japan the gesture he used stands for O-kane, which means coins or money, and they thought Mr Mehta wanted a bribe for signing the deal!
This is a funny story in retrospect, but I’m sure it was acutely stressful at the time. The misunderstanding had to be explained and apologies rendered to go through with the deal.
Inter-cultural miscommunication through body language is a common pitfall in global dealings. Gestures, expressions, even posture, which mean a certain thing in one culture, could mean something entirely different in another, and, when people use code-breakers from their own cultural context to interpret signals from another, they end up scrambling results!
Takes two to Tango
At a workshop on multicultural team-building the other day, an Indian engineer complained about how his boss (a Westerner) “treats me like a dog”. It turned out that the expat often held out his hand, palm upward, and wagged his curled forefinger to beckon him from a distance. In India, we consider it rude to call someone by using that gesture. Instead, we hold our hand out, palm down and wave our fingers back and forth to say “come here”. Unfortunately, the expat hadn’t figured out this nuance.
As already discussed in a previous article, handshakes should not be limp but firm and brief, irrespective of age and gender, to signal a reliable professional. Crossing ones arms might be interpreted as a closed and unfriendly body signal, so let’s not do that.
Thoughtful entries and exits
It is a golden rule and minimum universal etiquette to let people out of elevators before going in. Similarly, allowing others to pass first, ahead of you, is good body language. Walk tall and purposefully into a room, don’t try to slip in behind others. Let’s not be slouchy or sloppy. Sit tall in a chair, with the back tucked into the back of the chair, it increases your confidence level and works for your self-esteem. Nod and sit forward while listening and always take notes in meetings — it shows you are involved.
Personal space – it’s important
If you stand too close to a Britisher while talking to him or her, it might be interpreted as a threatening gesture. As a rule, I’ve found it best to keep a protective ‘D’ space between myself and the person I’m talking to.
Physical contact is also an area of much misunderstanding. I remember a friend telling me how embarrassed she was by the enthusiastic hugs she got from an American associate whom she felt she barely knew. She was afraid he was getting too personal. I had to explain that it was quite normal in his culture and only signalled friendship.
In another instance, a colleague who was assigned to help a Westerner get acclimatised to India, complained to me how ‘rude’ she was. “She talks in such a loud voice all the time. She’s always raising her voice.” In India, being soft-spoken conveys respect and a raised voice is a sign of aggression, but it isn’t necessarily so in other cultures.
There are so many little things which we Indians may take amiss, quite needlessly. Westerners, for instance, may tap or pat their colleagues, and wink a lot while talking. No, they’re not being naughty, they’re just being nice. It doesn’t mean a thing other than simple friendliness.
I learned that in America, when you drop into a colleague’s cubicle for a semi-official chat, you might find him suddenly pushing back his chair and putting his feet, shoes and all, on the corner of the table, meaning no offence. Yet, the other day, I watched a returning Indian do this in India, which looked totally out of place. So the rule is, adopt positive body language in a new culture to fit in while interacting with them, and drop it when you are back with your own.
As business borders are erased, let’s play safe. Till we learn the intricacies of another culture’s body language, let’s minimise our own, use the universal language of the smile, and try to use more verbal communication than the non-verbal type for our part.
The writer is Founder CEO of Global Adjustments, a relocation and cross-cultural services company. She can be contacted at globalindian[@]globaladjustments.com
This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 15, 2011.
16th of May 2011
Shying away from taking decisions and instead falling back on a senior is certainly not the path to growth.
One of my Finnish clients wrote me this e-mail the other day as a follow-up to our discussion on handling teams in India: “A phenomenon that surprises me is the attempt at reverse delegation. Even the most junior staff may come to me and request: ‘‘A’… we want you to do this….’ or ‘will you do that…’. Or, I might receive an e-mail saying: ‘You are requested to…’ It took me some time to learn how to deal with these situations.
This is clearly not what ‘A’ was used to back in Helsinki. In fact, this isn’t the norm in most parts of the Western work world.
But the truth is, it is something we come across repeatedly in interactions with people in corporate India. Recently, I even told the President of a small-sized company that this was something she needed to come to grips with, nay, resist, given her new demanding, national role.
I would like to share a series of real life instances, which show reverse delegation in a variety of scenarios.
Shyam didn’t feel he had enough information on the course that he was to run for the virtual team working with New Zealand. He referred back — in other words — reverse delegated to the manager who had the conversation with the team lead there, so that the appropriate needs were addressed. This could have been sorted out if the manager had equipped him with the data in a digestible, process-based format. The manager spotted the gap, wrote out the agenda the second time around and provided the bullet points of his discussions going forward.
Bharathi is insecure about the database that has been an ongoing challenge in the company. She doesn’t want to own responsibility for the outcome, so she takes the easy way out, referring the restructuring back to the manager time and again. The manager takes it on each time, as she doesn’t want to risk losing Bharathi, who she values as an employee. But that is a weak way of dealing with the issue. Sitting down and talking about the recurring pattern of reverse delegation, asking Bharathi to own responsibility for the database that forms an important part of her customer relations role and that she is best equipped to know the nuances of and assuring her she will not be penalised for attempting the database structuring, is the right the way forward.
Anita returned the travel file to Arjun as an indirect way of telling him that she doesn’t feel the task allotted to her was suited to her profile as Vice-President.
This is an issue that has to be discussed; either she has to realise that travel is an important component of the company’s success and her personal involvement, getting her hands dirty, is a good signal for the rest of the VPs, or, someone has to be appointed to assist Anita.
Vimal is a habitual shirker, he seems to have made a practice of giving excuses and easing out of jobs. He says he can’t get sponsors for the event as he is busy with the seminar. He can’t follow up the pending payments either, as he is tied up with the delivery team; he can’t retrieve the client details as he still has the financial reports to file. So he is always doing something else rather than what he should be doing. Just because he delivers some of the goods, he gets away with key components. It was clear he needed the pink slip, instead of the manager taking the flak all the time.
There are times when it is not the employee or team member’s fault, such as in story 1 or 2. Delegation without giving enough information, or when the employees feel they will be penalised, are instances in which reverse delegation is bound to happen. The buck gets handed back to the manager. It is up to the manager to assist, empower and ensure it is not repeated. Here are some tips I’ve learned from experience:
Give clear instructions
Give examples of how it worked and where to go for further details
Show the employees how they can take decisions
Show them where you will help
Provide templates and references where it is possible to empower them
Encourage and publicly applaud independence
If mistakes happen, encourage them to learn from experience Refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer
Reverse delegation is acceptable only where team work is involved and the manager can make the difference and value-add quickly, while the employee is productive elsewhere. So, other than in such cases, do let’s follow the seven steps above and encourage our teams to go ahead and accept responsibility for doing things the right way.
I was attending a talk on Diversity and Inclusiveness at Nasscom in Bangalore. The last speaker on the panel summed up what she and others before her had said and then threw the floor open for questions. Dead silence.
“Aren’t there any questions?” she asked. The silence continued. The audience had to be prompted before a man stood up hesitantly and aired a question. It turned out that many in the audience shared the doubt, but were hesitant to stand up and ask.
This is a familiar situation in India. Often, at seminars, workshops and business meetings, the participants are too shy to ask or simply don’t have the right question in mind.
In my early days I would often think, “well, I’ll wait till the session is over and ask a friend/colleague what the speaker meant.”
Then, I realised that this face-saving approach was less desirable than sounding interested and intelligent by asking the right question in the right way.
In all humility, I have, in Dale Carnegie’s terminology “won friends and influenced people” by working on this skill. In this article, I’d like to discuss questions, their purpose and how to make them effective.
C-L-U-B — 4 attributes of questions:
Compliment the speaker: It shows the speaker that the audience has been listening to him, is interested in what he had to say, and wants to know more.
Learning for other listeners: Like the man I mentioned earlier, by standing up and seeking clarification, you’re helping out a lot of people. If you hold back, it is a lost opportunity.
Useful to the questioner: If framed correctly, questions bring more knowledge, information and understanding, which add up to more power.
Forges a bond between the questioner and the questioned: Many times I have had the speaker respond to my e-mails and other participants share views after the session. The interaction has even brought me business later on.
So, they’re really important tools if used thoughtfully and correctly.
Question the Question
What is it that you’re seeking? More information? A clarification? Do you want to encourage the speaker to elaborate, or are you looking for a short, succinct answer? Do you want to persuade someone to do something or agree to do something your way? Frame the question depending on what you want.
There are several types of questions to choose from — open and close-ended ones, probing questions, binary questions, echo questions and persuasive questions.
Close-ended questions work well when we need a specific answer. “Would you suggest we speak with John about this?” or “How many people will you need to complete this project within the deadline?”
Probing questions will take you deeper into the subject. “Do you think Deepa will be able to handle the testing part of the project?” or “Do we need to introduce a Rs 1,000-fine for littering?”
Open-ended questions make for more insightful information gathering. Suppose a team member comes to you with a complaint about the working system. You say, “Right, Hari, I’ve understood the problem. Now, what do you think we should do to rectify the situation?” This way, you’re not only getting some possible solutions, you’re also gaining an insight into Hari’s mindset. Is he a chronic complainer, or is he genuinely interested in sorting out the problem? Also, when you make it a two-way brainstorming exercise, you’re more likely to come up with a solution which works and has a buy-in from Hari too!
Leading questions are powerful tools that nudge a person into thinking his options through and coming up with the response we really want from him. “Do you think going on this course will help you upgrade your skills?” you ask a team member who has been reluctant to move out of the comfort zone of the role he’s been assigned. The question will force him to look at the advantages of learning something new. He’s much more likely to say “yes” and take that course, than if you opted to push him against the wall with a question that demanded “yes” for an answer. Persuasive questions are a branch of leading questions, and they’re an art form in themselves. They’re almost second nature to the successful salesperson. “This TV model will look so good in that corner of the room, won’t it?” he gushes, and you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement, or at worst, pointing to a different corner and saying it’d look better there. Either way, he’s made a sale!
Personally, when I problem-solve with my team, I’ve found the binary question most useful. “Is budget the real hurdle, or is it time?” I ask. My team pauses to ponder, and the answer points the way out.
I will round off with some tips for effective questioning:
The art of questioning goes hand-in-hand with the art of listening.
Frame questions that are to the point.
Give the person enough time to respond.
Be courteous. If you’re not satisfied with an answer, rephrase or repeat your question, but never heckle. And after you’ve received a response, say “Thank you”.
So why not join the questioners’ CLUB?
(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 11, 2011)