Sunday, April 20, 2008



The article addresses about the problems of talent crunch and how it affects the productivity and performance adversely. The causes, effects and the tips to tackle the talent crunch are dwelt at length. The importance of Soft Skills and the role of Corporate and Soft Skills Trainers are focused in detail.


KEY WORDS: What is Talent Crunch? Education Vs Training Vs Development, Causes, Effects, Tips to Tackle Talent Crunch, Soft Skills, Importance, Role of Trainers & Conclusion.

“If 4,00,000 engineers come out of India every year, the equivalent in China is 1.2 million and they are all of very high quality”, said Mr.Padmabhan, executive vice president for global human resources at Indian IT services company TCS.


The problem presently being faced in the job market is not scarcity of jobs but scarcity of talent. It is a problem of unemployability not unemployment. In the past, we had unemployment where applicants had the eligibility, suitability and capability towards jobs but unfortunately there were not many employment opportunities. After the liberation, privatization and globalization, the industrial climate in India had drastically changed for better and fortunately there are ample employment opportunities in India. But the problem prevailing now is of unemployability where people have eligibility not having suitability and capability despite availability of employment opportunities. It is like having everything on the platter in front of you but not able to eat. It is also like having plenty of water in the ocean but the applicants are not in a position to drink due to talent crunch. In this context, it is pertinent to briefly explain about education, training and development.


Education is a broader concept and it provides all round knowledge, skills, aptitudes etc., Training is the narrow area, functional area and is more or less related to job. According to Flippo, “Training is the act of increasing the knowledge and skills of an employee for doing a particular job”. An automobile engineer having formal education, at times, may not be as capable of an automobile mechanic without formal education because of the training the latter had. The mechanic after working very hard continuously and mechanically for a long period becomes an expert not by education but by training and experience. It is like saying that, in a clinic, a compounder is better than a doctor who acquired a professional qualification. On the other hand, development is career oriented which helps in the growth of the individual as well as the institution. Talent crunch occurs if there is no synergy amongst education, training and development. To put it precisely, talent crunch can be addressed if there is synchronization and coordination in the three areas of education, training and development. Talent crunch need not to take place before the joining of the applicant in an organization. It can prevail even after joining in the organization, if the organization does not get tuned with the external changes, either technological, competitive or human relations front.


The present Indian educational system is not in right pace with the global education and is based on rote learning. It stifles creativity and innovation and encourages cramming, mugging up and by hearting the contents. Students, in stead of understanding, analyzing and interpreting the information they read and reproduce during the examinations. In such a scenario, how can we have talented stuff?

Now a days, guides have proved to be handy and students score high marks only by reading the guides and the previous model question papers during the exams. They are not reading variety of books. Referring diversified books provide different, divergent and wider knowledge base and unfortunately that is missing now. They score highest marks in the academic exams and take the competitive exams where they face a lot of heat. Unfortunately there also, too many guides that glide the students to clear the written tests in the competition. And the final heat is in the interview where they fail miserably because here memory may not support much but the employers look for various qualities like communication skills, team spirit, leadership skills, analytical skills, problem solving skills, flexibility, adaptability and absorbability. Research reveals that 2 out of 10 of the recruited employees really possess the skills related to job and the rest do not possess but still are being absorbed because the companies do not like to keep the vacancies unfilled. Every company looks for plug and play recruits. Since they are not getting they are spending huge funds to train and groom the recruited employees to make them job competent.

Even in Indian defence also there is talent crunch. Jobs for the post of Commissioned officers are available and unfortunately they are not getting right talented people and as a result, the vacancies remain unfilled as Indian defence can not compromise quality of performance.

Internet has become a big boon for students these days. Entire information is available at the click of a mouse. Everything is ready made and tailor made. Whatever they want, they get it at the click of the mouse from search engines. They simply copy and paste. It all led to stifling the thinking abilities. One way, internet has become a boon and on the other hand it has become a bane.

Dearth of creativity and innovation and the problem in the present teaching and training methodologies and the maladies in the present examination system has led to the present talent crunch.


When incompetent applicants are recruited, there is lot of spending on the training and development activities. Or else it will adversely affect the production, productivity and performance at the individual as well as the institutional level. The companies may not be in a position to compete with their global counterparts due to the dearth of talent. Employees may not be able to cope up with the working pressures due to shortage of skills and abilities and leading to higher stress levels. A sense of fear, frustration and depression may creep in the minds of the incompetent people and the work life would become hell as they can not enjoy their professional life. And ultimately it will have fall out on the personal and social life. Finally the incompetent employees may develop high stress levels thereby burning out.


Every human memorizes 20 per cent of what he listens, 30 per cent what he sees, 50 per cent of what he listens and sees and 80 per cent of what he listens, sees and does. The teaching and the training methodology should be solely centered on the three simultaneous pillars of listening, seeing and doing so as to have effective and efficient results academically. Such an approach will make the students more courageous, confident and competent.

A revolutionary change in our present educational system is the need of the hour. There should be more focus on creativity and innovative learning. Every student should be encouraged in his class room to write something of his own choice to nurture writing skills and as well as to unlock his creativity. He should be encouraged to come to the dais and speak few words so as to make him as an effective speaker. There should be quizzes, brainstorming, role playing, simulation and group discussions among the students. Every student should be encouraged to become a good reader, writer, listener and speaker as it helps him to do at the corporate world. All these things can not be achieved in overnight. The practice must start from the KG (kindergarten) level itself. There should not be any pressure to study but education ambience must be such that there is pleasure in learning.

There is no point in loading with lot of information and knowledge. Emphasis must be on quality not on quantity. Teach the topic and encourage the students to participate in group activities and discuss topic as it will help unlock their hidden talents spontaneously and also it helps to know what strength other students have towards the topic. Students should be taught and trained to think.

Story telling is an art. Humans would love to listen to stories. Each class should have a small story for a few minutes to arouse the interest in the students and along with the story the moral message can be sent and the subject can be taught gradually.

Taking lot of case studies and giving too many examples of our day to day life will help students to learn the subject as well as they will have feel of the practical world.

Socratic Method of teaching is one of the best ways of teaching. It means leaning by questioning. It helps the students to understand and grasp the contents much easily. When the question is posed by the students, the teacher must be in a position to articulate further questions to the students and should get the answers. It requires lot of involvement, enthusiasm on the part of the teacher to apply the tool and technique.


There is an adage in business, “People rise because of their hard skills and fall because of (the lack of) soft skills”. Hard skills are the domain skills and are also called technical skills. Soft skills are like non domain skills and anything other than the subjective knowledge that helps in effective communication, presentation, team building and leadership are known as soft skills. These are also known as emotional intelligence and the interpersonal skills. To put it in a nut shell, the soft skills and hard skills are two sides of the same coin and one without the other has no meaning.


Soft skills believe in nurture rather than nature. It manages the interacting between subtle and fickle human beings. It enhances the efficiency at the work place and minimizes the attrition rate. It always makes an individual stay ahead of time.

Soft skills enhance employability of the candidates and provide a solid ground to get adjusted and get along in the organizations more effectively and efficiently. These enhance the core competence and confidence of an individual. The growing widening gap between the talent supply and technical demand can be narrowed down. In a nut shell, proper training in soft skills creates more opportunities for the fresh candidates thereby minimizing the talent crunch in the job market.

There should be inclusion of soft skill subject in the academic curriculum so that students will have confidence and courage to communicate in the corporate world.

Infosys conducted 5 day work shop on Soft Skills titled Special Training Program (STP) for the teaching faculty in Hyderabad in 2007 and it is a step in the right direction and it shows the significance attached to the area of soft skills.


These days there is steady growth of corporate and soft skill trainers in India who work either full time or as freelance faculty. The companies are gradually realizing the importance of imparting right training to their employees so that they get updated, attuned with latest teaching and training methodologies and developments and stay competent and compete. All companies and especially IT and BPO companies where attrition is high have realized the role of corporate trainers and are hiring them to motivate their employees on continuity basis.

Conducting workshops, seminars and conferences periodically will help the employees release and relive from their routine burdens and monotony and they get recharged by corporate training activities and as a result they contribute the work with more energy and enthusiasm.


Try to become an all rounded personality. Focus on academic activities as well as on extra curricular activities. Balancing the both will make a complete personality. Lay stress on creative, innovative and practical method of learning where there can be blend of mind set, tool set and skill set so as to become a successful corporate professional.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008



The write up deals with the ways and means by which better work life balance can be maintained. It addresses the problems and prospects involved in work-life balance. There are four types of people in this world - Directors, Thinkers, Socializers and Relaters. It highlights the right strategy by dividing the 24 hours in a constructive and creative manner. The write up focused about the Gujarati culture of work life balance. It dwelt at length about the IT professionals in India vis-à-vis the caption. At the end it has come out with tools and techniques in ensuring effective and efficient work-life balance.


Introduction, Four Types of People, Division of 24 Hours, Gujarati Culture, IT Sector in India, Tools for Better Work-Life Balance & Conclusion.

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“I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day”, E.B.White.


Now days, every successful person undergoes a major problem in this world. That is how to manage his professional success with personal and social success and how to strike the right chord between his life and his work. Success is taking its toll. People are in the mad race to achieve anything and everything but at their own peril. They make a lot of money and create comforts but ultimately lose their mental peace.


There are four categories of people – Directors, Thinkers, Socializers and Relaters. The Directors’ type of people is task oriented and directs the things to be done and is highly energetic. They care least for sentiments and are hard core doers and push ahead despite odds. They achieve a lot in their life and unfortunately at the end there will be no one to celebrate their success as they rarely socialized with others and never made friends. They always remain alone right from the beginning to the end.

The second category of the people is Thinkers. This kind of people read a lot, has an eye for detail and always thinks a lot and is of less directorial tendencies and least of socializing skills. They tend to become philosophers, great thinkers in the world. They do not like to be disturbed and are comfortable in thinking alone always about their chosen field of life.

The third category of people is Socializers and is party animals. They are less of task oriented less of thinkers and take the roles and responsibilities lightly and think about always enjoying in moving in groups. They like to attend parties and make friends. They always take pleasure in moving with people and partying. The Richard Branson of Virginia group, UK is a party animal. He spends considerable amount of time in attending parties. Vijay Mallya of UB group in India is also a party animal and is a media savvy. He always likes to be focused and is always at the center of attraction.

The fourth category of people is Relaters and they are less of directorial, least of thinkers, average of socializing and predominant in networking and building relations.

Every individual has all the four dimensions of a personality and the quality or trait that is predominant is categorized. This analysis will definitely help people in managing work life balance keeping their tastes and temperaments in view.


God gifted 24 hours a day equally for all people. How to utilize the precious time is a million dollar question. An average individual spends 8 hours for sleeping, 8 hours for work and 8 hours for other routine and regular activities. There should not be any adjustment in sleeping time as body needs rest and to get recharged for the rest of the time. People spend lot of time from commuting from residence to work place and back. If efforts are made to keep the residence as close as to the work place, the time can be saved as well as the strain and stress can be minimized. The time so saved can be utilized either towards recreation or pursuing hobbies. John Wanamaker said, “People who can’t find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness”.


Gujaratis in India work very hard and once in a week they have the culture to dine out. They do not mix business life with personal life and they are often successful in separating the both. The chunk of entrepreneurs has come from Gujarati community. They have flair for business and work with lot of dedication, discipline and determination. But once in a week they go outside with family and spend their personal and social life. Similarly most of them take periodical holidays from the work and enjoy their life.


Information Technology (IT) sector in India is doing very good. There are more job opportunities due to the IT boom. Just after the completion of professional qualifications like B.Tech and MCA (engineering graduates and computer post graduates), the applicants are getting jobs. The pay and perks are encouraging. But the work life is highly complicated and highly demanding. There are many pulls and pressures during the work life. There are too many commitments and deadlines and there are too much of unpredictable peaks and troughs during the course of the working time. All these things make the work as a hectic activity and a strenuous one. Sitting in front the computer systems is leading to developing stiff neck problems, dry eyes, irritation, lack of interest towards sexual activities, back pains etc., It looks like having everything but losing so many things related to health and recreation.

However, there is a silver lining. The IT companies are realizing the perils of working long hours. It all looks that employees are contributing their best but when we look at qualitatively the results are poor. What is ultimately essential is the qualitative not quantitative productivity. So during the working hours itself a few companies are providing time to do meditation so that the employees can regain their lost energies and work energetically. Intermittently, breaks are provided to employees for recouping their energies. Weekend parties are conducted to take time off and to unwind and to recharge for the following working day. Periodically cultural programs are organized to make the employees happy and feel comfortable. It is at the functions the employees forget the discrimination in their ranks and cadres and also forget the differences, if any, in their work life and come under one platform in the name of cultural programs.

In the western countries and many other countries, there is 5 day week. People work very hard up to 5 days and take a weekend break and spend their personal and social life with ecstasy. We have come to the world to achieve something and to contribute something that does mean sacrificing our personal lives for the sake of professional life. No one should regret at the last leg of life for not having spent personal life satisfactorily. There should not be any regrets at the end of the life either not having spent personal, social or professional life.


“If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul”, Logan P.Smith.

Efforts should be made not to mix up personal life with professional life. There should not be an encroachment. If personal life is paid more attention the professional life will get disturbed and as a result losing the job and income. On the other hand, if the professional life is paid more attention, the personal life is adversely affected resulting into higher stress levels. In this context, it is aptly said, “I have more to do than anyone else; I can’t possibly do everything during the day. I often end up taking work home with me”.

It is a well admitted fact that money is not everything. Money is essential for survival and for having comforts but too much emphasis on money is like losing so much for so little.

Plan and execute your tasks as per your schedule to avoid any stress. And also anticipate the probable problems that are likely to come up and may create tensions.

You must be in a position to discount any external threats that can not be expected but can be anticipated. Such things will divert the routine work thereby getting deviated. Apart from the routine tasks other tasks will pile up thereby deviating from the routine course of action resulting into stress and burn out. Internal threats can be expected and anticipated and those can be controlled and minimized easily.

Always look at the amount of investments that are put in and the probable returns that can be generated. When the returns are higher than the investments and that too when it does not affect our personal health then the work can be proceeded.

There is nothing like false prestige while undertaking the tasks as few males find it difficult to get out social stigmas like ‘I can’t do this’.

Flex time as a concept is widely applied in the corporate world. It allows the employees to work the stipulated hours either at a stretch or in a piecemeal manner. Especially when both the wife and husband are working the flextime helps in right division of work at home.

Daily, budget your time properly by allocating for personal life, professional life and social life. It is necessary to strictly demarcate all the activities as per schedule and follow accordingly.

Multitasking is the buzzword at the corporate world. But it is leading to so many complications and implications. Do not have all priorities at a time.

Cut down superfluous tasks. Prioritize and plan the tasks properly.

Find out the passionate areas and activities that interest you. And pursue the same up to the hilt. Since you are enjoying what you are doing you will not get stressed out.

Achievement and enjoyment are two sides of the same coin. Try to strike the right balance between the both so as to lead a smooth, successful and comfortable life.

Cultivate positive attitude, inculcate coping skills and pursue creative hobbies and interests to maintain the right balance between the work and life.

It is desirable to hit gym or for a walk to beat regular work related stress. Pursing hobbies like swimming, games and other activities regularly relieve stress and enthuse the individual with fresh energy. Going for meditation also helps.

Research reveals that “American workers average approximately ten paid holidays per year while British workers average twenty five holidays and German employees thirty. Americans work twelve weeks more a year in total hours than Europeans”. Enhancing paid holidays will help employees to be more secure financially. They can avail paid leaves and go for holidaying for unwinding. Many corporates provides paid leave once in a year with free traveling allowances to their employees.

Daily make a habit to spend a few minutes in a serene and silent place by closing your eyes. In this scenario, you neither hear anything nor do you see anything. As a result, you can immediately consolidate and create fresh energies.


Life is very short and let us make it sweet. Striking the right balance amongst the personal life, professional life and social life is essential. To sum up in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all”.


Thursday, April 10, 2008


“The body never lies and the body never keeps quiet”, Ancient Chinese proverb.

Observe the three role playing activities stated below:

One: Peter says, “Paul, Take this DVD cassette. It is very interesting. Play it and enjoy yourself”. (Not looked at the DVD and also at the Paul while handing over).

Two: Peter says, “Paul, take this DVD cassette. It is very interesting. Play it and enjoy yourself”. (Looked at the DVD but not looked at the Paul while handing over).

Three: Peter says, “Paul, take this DVD cassette. It is very interesting. Play it and enjoy yourself”. (Looked at the DVD, maintained eye contact with Paul and smiled while handing over).

From the above three role playing activities it is obvious that the third activity is the best as the Peter smiled, looked at the DVD and maintained eye contact with the Paul. It is obvious from the above the huge signification and importance attached to the body language during communication. In this context, let us know in detail about the body language.


When we communicate only 7 per cent of the communication depends on verbal communication and the rest goes towards the non verbal communication. Of the 93 per cent- 38 percent is for voice modulation and 55 per cent is for body language. It indicates the tremendous impact it makes during communication. Body language constitutes the total facial animation and body animation. Human beings may say many lies but it is the body language that usually speaks truth. When we communicate the other person observes and registers our body language in his subconscious mind. Although externally, the listener observes and accepts every thing of verbal language but the listener’s subconscious mind is totally beset with our body language.


Non Verbal Behavior Interpretation

Standing with hands on hips Readiness, aggression
Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly Boredom
Sitting, legs apart Open, relaxed
Brisk, erect talk Confidence
Arms crossed on chest Defensiveness
Walking with hands in pockets, shoulders
hunched Dejection
Hand to cheek Evaluation, thinking
Rubbing the eye Doubt, disbelief
Touching, slightly rubbing nose Rejection, doubt, lying
Locked ankles Apprehension
Hands clasped behind back Anger, frustration,
Head resting in hand, eyes downcast Boredom
Rubbing hands anticipation
Sitting with hands clasped behind head,
legs crossed Confidence, superiority
Open palm Sincerity, openness,
Tapping or drumming fingers Impatience
Pinching bridge of nose, eyes closed Negative evaluation
Steepling fingers Authoritative
Patting/fondling hair Lack of self-confidence,
Titled head Interest
Stroking chin Trying to make a decision

Pulling or tugging at ear Indecision
Biting nails Insecuritynervousness
Looking down, face turned away Disbelief


Below mentioned are the common tips for effective body language and the same varies from culture to culture.

• First and foremost thing is to be aware of your own body language and capitalize the same effectively and efficiently.

• “The eyes are the windows, the mirrors of the soul”, goes the Chinese proverb. The use of eyes in the process of communication is called Oculesics. Maintain eye contact to the listener. And do not stare at the listener as it creates inconvenience and discomfort for the individual. If you find it difficult to look into the eyes then look in between both the eyes, it appears as though you maintain eye contact.
• Keep your back straight but not stiff and don’t slouch your body. You may slightly tilt your head forward to demonstrate your interest.
• Don’t stand still in a place. Make a few comfortable movements with in your personal space.
• Proxemics –This refers to the way in which people maintain a physical distance from one another. Learn to maintain the right gap between intimate and public zone. Intimate zone is the zone for well known and close people. Where as the public zone is meant for unknown people. Never offend others by entering their personal zones during conversation or communication.
• While shaking hands be confident and positive and ensure that your palm should neither by upwards nor downwards but just be equal and vertical as it conveys assertive approach.
• Smile from the core of your heart. People are intelligent and can make out whether the smile is genuine or fake.
• Make use of your hand movements up to the hilt. Each verbal language must be consistently correlated to have effective delivery of speech.
• Observe the film stars and great speakers across the globe closely for correct body language. Try to implement the same as per your convenience, comfort and that suits your culture.
• Look into the mirror and speak, you can make out if there are any inaccuracies in your body language because you are the best judge for yourself.
• Deliver any speech in the presence of your friends and family members and ask them to bring to your notice for evaluation and correction.
• Visualization technique proves to be useful while delivering any speech. Visualize your role model vis-à-vis body language and adopt the same. Over a period of time you can develop positive body language.
• Videotape your conversation, communication or your speech and then check by muting the recording. By this, your body language can be observed fully and the areas that need to be improved can be corrected and adopted.
• Never view body language in isolation. It has to be seen keeping the cultural context view.


Body language is the most crucial part of any communication. Fine tuning body language helps ordinary persons to become an extra ordinary persons thereby excelling in all walks of life. Improving your body language can make a big difference in your people skills, emotional intelligence, attractiveness and general mood. The difference between the good leaders and great leaders is the right application of body language to convey, enthuse and inspire their followers.


Friday, April 4, 2008



The article addresses the problems involved while giving and receiving feedback. It briefly defined and explained the types of feedback and its importance. It has taken a few examples by way of case studies to teach the right methodology of giving feedback. It has focused on the sandwich method of feedback. At the end it concluded that it is essential for all to take feedback for all-round growth and prosperity.


What is feedback? Stages of Feedback, Types of Feedback, Importance, Case Study of Varun, Pooja and Interview, Tips While Giving and Receiving Feedback & Conclusion.


“Feedback can be defined as the tool that projects and presents the information which highlights if there are any gaps between the intentions and the actions with in the individual as well as if there is any gap between the expectations and aspirations of the receiver (employer) and the giver (employee) in achieving the goals and objectives of the organization”, Prof.M.S.Rao.


While providing the feedback, dispassionately describe the behavior of the person with entire information. Convey your feelings objectively and specifically without hurting the other person. Explain the impact and the implications and complications involved in such kind of behavior. And request or implore the other person to change his intentions, actions and behavior as it will help in having better personality and command respect among all. There has to be etiquette in all the stages of feedback in order to have effectiveness.


There are different types of feedback such as positive feedback, negative feedback, bipolar feedback and sandwich feedback etc,

If the end result of the feedback is in favor of the individual and that makes him happy and comfortable it is said to be positive feedback. On the other hand, if the outcome of the report or feedback is not palatable to the other person and requires drastic correction for improvement then it is known as negative feedback. Third method of feedback is the bipolar one which is blend of both appreciation and correction. There is a polished manner and method of giving feedback which is known as sandwich method. In this method, the negative comments are embedded between positive comments. Such as this kind of feedback starts with a positive sentence of praise followed by the intended information conveyed to be negative for correction and then quickly and smartly concluded with positive praise. For instance, “Sangeeta, you are so sweet and cute in appearance. Unfortunately the attire is not matching to the function. Of course, your manners appeal me the most”.


Learning is a process from cradle to grave. And one can learn effectively and efficiently if the feedback is taken continuously. The feedback appriser must be someone who is fair, dispassionate and impartial to judge, evaluate and provide constructive feedback for progress.

Constructive feedback reinforces the strengths and helps in overcoming the weaknesses and provides the direction to the areas that need to be improved.

There are appraisers in corporates who are exclusively meant for evaluating the employees for their performance. If there are any shortfalls the employee skills and abilities are upgraded by providing proper training. Human resources are the most precious capital in any organization. Feedback, as a tool, helps the organizations to measure the standards of the employees also such as Total Quality Management (TQM). In this cut throat competitive world, all organizations are laying stress on human capital.

The organizations are employing specialized professionals for feedback evaluation and it indicates the growing significance towards evaluation of feedback.


Varun was a hardworking student in an engineering college and when Varun gave negative and constructive feedback to his faculty, the latter awarded minimum marks in the internal examinations. Who was at fault? The faculty? Or the student? It is certainly the faculty for not having taken the feedback constructively. There is always room for improvement and the probable areas needs to be improved. Unfortunately the faculty could not digest the negative feedback.


Pooja was an excellent speaker and delivered a wonderful seminar on a topic. At the end of the seminar Pooja asked his teaching faculty to give feedback. The faculty highlighted all the positive elements and ingredients such as delivery, flow, command, confidence, knowledge, relevance to the topic and she felt greatly excited. Subsequently the teaching faculty asked her to meet in his cabin. In the cabin, the faculty personally commented, “Your speech was excellent with total command, control and confidence in communication. However there was a flaw in your body language that is keeping a leg apart while standing that looks inviting others and that needs to be improved. Rest everything was superb”. In this context the faculty gave a positive feedback in public and a sandwich feedback in private.


John applied for the post of Soft Skills trainer in a Business School and was called for interview. It was a panel interview consisting of eight persons from different disciplines including Human Resources (HR) person. The interview was conducted in a professional manner and it took around 20 minutes and at the end of the interview one of the members asked John to conduct a training activity so that they could judge for his suitability and capability to the post. John was expert in conducting interviews, group discussions, team games and other practical oriented activities. The panel member asked John to conduct the group discussion for the panel members and provide feedback.

John immediately took the charge and explained the do’s and don’ts to be followed and gave a controversial topic so as to make the group discussion interesting and exciting. The panel members discussed with in the given time and there were heated exchanges of views and opinions and once the stipulated time was over, John stopped and provided feedback to each individual. After listening everything they insisted John to give negative feedback such as by highlighting only the weaknesses of each panel member and John found himself in a trap. Because it is human nature to take positive feedback and negative feedback is usually resisted. That too during interview while seeking employment giving negative feedback proved to be a big risk.

But John started by saying, “You are the veterans in your own disciplines. I am not competent to comment about your competency but since you are insisting on negative feedback I will provide. I will not like to call weaknesses rather I would like to call these are the areas for improvement”. And John listed out the areas for improvement on an individual basis. And at the end John said, “Over all, you panel members have done extraordinarily well by putting your effort, energy and enthusiasm and I am highly honored to provide you such feedback”.

This is the case of sandwich feedback. Giving feedback requires a lot of experience, tact and diplomacy.


• Never mix up the issues with the individuals. Give importance to issues not individuals. It helps the other person to receive feedback positively and constructively.
• Be specific and objective. Elaborate the specific part of the problem and then give feedback with justification. It should be logical and analytically supported and substantiated.
• Praise in public and criticize in private. If the feedback is positive and worth to be appreciated give it in the presence of all so the person feels elevated. On the other hand, if the feedback is negative call personally to the cabin or cubicle and then offer your comments for correction.
• Don’t praise for the sake of praising as it loses its touch. The other person feels that it is flattery.
• Catch up the situation and find the person doing the right things and then praise. It is the right time to pat and the person will enhance his performance also.
• Don’t be selective and choosy in appreciation and praise as it develops a great good will among the appreciated people but creates greater bad will among the majority of the people. As it is known that people getting positive feedback are few in number where as the people getting negative feedback are usually more in number. To put it precisely there should not be any favoritism in giving positive feedback.
• At times the actions prove to be wrong although the intentions are good and it is the other way round like although intentions are wrong the actions tend to be positive. Often the good intentions of our best relatives prove worse than the bad intentions of our worst enemies. There has to be consistency in intentions and actions.
• Never keep praising the same individual continuously as others might view it as partiality or bias. Find out the strengths of each individual and highlight the same in the feedback.
• Avoid comparisons with other people as it leads to ego clashes and ill feelings. Remember that everybody is unique in this world. Even the twins are not alike in attitude and aptitude.
• Offer only your comments not your judgments.


• Listen carefully to the person providing feedback. Don’t try to defend yourself instantly if it happens to be negative. Take it in your stride.
• Learn to paraphrase the contents of the feedback, analyze, absorb and accept. Don’t demonstrate either positive or negative body animation or facial animation.
• Accept gracefully and project positive body animation and positive facial animation. Ask if you have any clarifications. And also display your enthusiasm to learn the ways and means to correct the same.
• And finally thank the person for taking the time to provide constructive feedback.
• Remember one thing that no man is free from weaknesses in this world.


The intention of any feedback is not to harm, hurt or humiliate but to help in correcting the attitude and behavior of the individual for the progress of the individual as well as the institution in which he is working. Feedback is essential in every walk of life. There is a strong need and demand to innovate new tools and techniques for evaluation and feedback of the employees so that optimum utilization of the precious human resources can be expected and achieved.




The research paper highlights various shades and dimensions of cultural differences across the globe and how to address the same. It has taken the case study of Ramu the way he encountered cultural shocks. Tools to minimize the cultural differences are focused. It explained about the importance of multi cultural skills and defined proxemics and oculesics. It has taken a few examples which led to communication gaps at the global level. The food habits of Chinese, the meaning of commitment and the right process of global business communication is addressed. At the end, it has concluded that it is necessary to have cultural literacy, cultural competency and cultural fluency to succeed in the global business world.


Introduction, What is Culture? Case Study of Ramu, Proxemics, Oculesics, Importance of Multi Cultural Skills, Business Cards, Chinese Food Habits, Commitment, Business Communication, Examples Having Cultural Gaps, Tools for Minimizing Cultural Differences & Conclusion.


“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his own language, that goes to his heart”, Nelson Mandela.


When Hollywood actor Richard Gere publicly kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, people made a hue and cry over the scene and on the issue across India. Neither Richard Gere was wrong in kissing and nor Shilpa Shetty was wrong in getting kissed but the culture and country in which such a scene happened drew the public and media attention. Although their intentions were right but their actions were misunderstood and were criticized by public. It is a case of cultural differences between two people from two different cultural backgrounds.


According to Geert Hofstede, “Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another”.

Every community has its own values, norms, mores, customs, cultures and cherishes the same. And any member of others’ culture interferes or intervenes and insults then there will be cultural conflict. The rapid growing technology and media has made the globe smaller and people are learning to respect various cultures across the world. Culture is a broad term to define and it can be defined precisely as the love for one’s own values, norms, mores, values, customs, language in which one is born. To be born in a particular culture is not a choice but destiny. However, if there is an aptitude and attitude to learn others’ culture it is always possible to have cultural fluency, cultural competence and cultural tolerance and adjustment.


Ramu was born in a hamlet where there was not even a primary school. As a child he played in paddy fields; he swam in a nearby pond along with his friends in his childhood. When his father moved to small town, he found it very difficult to get along with town people. It is basically because of the cultural conflict. There was difference in the dialect, new environment and new people. He decided to go back to hamlet where he played in green fields, open environment with his friends. He found it very difficult to start his primary education in the town. He failed to get along with semi urban background. The parents understood the problem of Ramu and gave him emotional and moral support. They encouraged Ramu to go to school so that he could make new friends there. Ramu had problem for some time to get adjusted because of the cultural differences. But slowly and steadily he began liking the semi urban culture and got encultured. This is the process of cultural adjustment of Ramu merely shifting from hamlet to a nearby small town. This is one leg of his life.

He completed his graduation in the same town and subsequently joined in defence as an officer. During the day one itself Ramu began feeling suffocation because he came from a small town and he had to adjust with the trainees of other states, and other cultural backgrounds. The food he ate at home and the habits he developed at home, the language he spoke at home, the style and accent he developed at home needed a drastic change in defence. People came from different cultural backgrounds, different food habits, different clothing attires and different intelligence levels and were brought on one national track. Initially there were too many bottlenecks, cultural conflicts and after some period of time and training the people came to one national culture. For Ramu, joining in defence was a rebirth.

From the above case study it is very obvious about the cultural differences one encounters in one’s life and career.


It is the study of physical distance which is supposed to be maintained among the individuals during conversation. It deals basically about distance which is supposed to be maintained amongst the known people and unknown people. Intimate zone can be maintained if there is close relation between the people. That means people come physically close and communicate. There is no fixed formula of maintaining the physical distance as it depends again on the cultural background of the people. It differs from country to country and from culture to culture.


It is all about the eye contact with individuals while communication. Excessive staring at others during conversation will create discomfort and inconvenience. Gazing at individuals will tantamount to bullying and browbeating others. At the same time if adequate eye contact is not maintained, the listeners will not take any interest towards your conversation. How much is the degree and how long is the duration of eye contact to be maintained is yet another crucial factor and varies from culture to culture.


It is essential to manage and minimize the cultural differences at all the levels. It helps people understand better and enhance peace and tranquility in the society. At the corporate level also it promotes healthy relations among the work force. It enhances productivity and performance. TCS trains its executives in foreign languages. All the companies are realizing the significance and importance attached to multicultural skills. Some companies recruit the talent from different cultural backgrounds so as to maintain cultural competency.

A few business schools and engineering institutions are encouraging the students across the globe to join and study together. It helps as a training ground to get encultured and enlightened with other cultures. It helps in people getting out of the mindset of ‘frog in the well’ and broadens their mental faculties.


When a visiting card is given the receiver has to take with a smile, observe and read and then should be kept inside the visiting card case holder. In India, when visiting card is given it is accepted with a right hand and then it is kept inside after reading the details. Whereas the same is called business card or name card in China and it has to be accepted with both hands closely observed, read and then kept inside.


In China, live birds and animals are displayed in the cages with in the restaurants itself. The people can order the same and the dressed meat is kept in the pan containing boiled water on the dining table which is free from spice. Other meat is also clubbed in the bowel which is being heated. Other vegetables are also put inside the pan and whatever is required will be served in the plate. There is no chronological order while eating. They can take boiled rice with milk, or beer or liquor or with meat or with vegetables. There is no specific order as such. When we compare the food habits in India it is totally different. Even with in India, there are various food habits like South Indian and North Indian and the classification and categorization goes on further.


It is the word widely used across the business world. Once the business deal or business proposal is confirmed and committed it is final. But it again changes from country to country based on their cultural backgrounds. In USA, once the proposal is ‘yes’ it is final and agreed upon. Where as in Japan, if it is ‘yes’ that means the party is agreeing to your proposal but not finalizing. That makes the cultural gaps in commitment.


For any business communication to be effective and efficient it should start with ice breaking sessions of general and non-business talk thus gradually gliding in to the core business talks. At this stage the negotiation skills are to be put to the test. All efforts should be made to make the negotiation process win-win. And after achieving the desired results and objectives then gradually the communication must revolve around the general discussions so as to indicate the finishing stages of the business communication. According to Japanese culture, the business communication should be thorough professional without any humor where as in Indian business communication, usage of humor is allowed.


An Indian working in an American software company in New Jersey bought a new car which was very costly and modern and told his American female colleague that he bought a new car and requested her to have glimpse and experience driving. The Indian was so excited to show his car to all colleagues in the work place and persisted in his attempts in front his female colleague to see the car and experience the driving. He wanted to share his excitement of buying a new costly car and frequently persisted her to see and try. The female colleague mistook the same and complained of sexual harassment. Although the intention of the Indian software professional was positive his actions were treated in a negative manner and it is a clear case of cultural miscommunication.

Apart from the above example there are a few examples which have been misunderstood due to different cultural background. Such as

• The gesture of the ‘Thumps up’ is regarded as an offensive in few countries and on the other hand it is treated as an excellent sign of good luck in the West.
• In India, the age of male should be usually higher than that of female for getting married and the age gap should be minimum. Where as in the West, it is not the condition or criteria. Age is not the criteria but understanding mutually and loving each other is the criteria. A man in the older age can marry a girl of younger age and vice versa is the practice prevailing in the west.
• When Pepsi came out with an English version of its advertisement captioned ‘Come alive with Pepsi’ in its true Taiwanese language it sent wrong signals to the consumers as it meant ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’.
• When Michael Jackson dances the world applauds with ecstasy and joy. But few of his dancing postures look to be sexy and offensive to Indian cultural ethos and values. The body language plays a crucial role in communication and it again differs from culture to culture.
• In an Arab country a popular advertisement related to washing detergents has been mentioned with unclean clothes on the one side and clean clothes on the other side with a slogan in Arabic language that ‘if you use our detergents your clothes would turn out be like this’. The end result is that the sales dipped drastically and later on the advertisers realized that the Arab language is read from right to left unlike other languages that are read from left to right. It is a case of a problem related to linguistic reading.
• In India people are flexible in timing and are not punctual where as in the Western countries they stick to timings and are punctual. Where as in a few countries like China, Korea and a few other countries timings are not the criteria but are very much particular about patience.


• Learn to respect others’ cultures. ‘Love your mother but do not hate others’ mother’. Every individual has right to love his mother but he has no right to hate others’ mother as for somebody she is the mother. Similarly you can love your community and culture and it is absurd to hate others’ community and culture. There is a strong need to empathize with others’ culture.
• An optimist looks at the things from positive perspective where as a pessimist looks from a negative perspective. Learn to look at the commonalities among various cultures rather than at the differences. It will help promote cultural synthesis and synergy.
• Develop tolerance towards others’ cultures. And if possible, try to read books that promote cultural literacy, cultural competency and cultural fluency.
• When you enter into a new cultural zone, closely and keenly observe the situation and people, analyze and then adopt. Speaking less and observing more is essential.
• Project yourself as a low key person in a new cultural ambience.
• Don’t criticize and don’t compare others’ culture with that of yours as every culture is unique.
• Develop patience towards others and do not rush in your actions and activities.
• Lot of research and home work needs to be done when entering into a new cultural environment as it will help glide and guide the process of negotiations smoothly.


Cultural literacy, cultural competency and cultural fluency are essential for personal and professional growth. Learning others’ cultures and languages activates grey cells. It helps in knowing and understanding others better and results in cultural adjustment and cultural adaptability, cultural tolerance and prosperity. It is high we cultivated right attitude and aptitude towards all cultures across the world.