Business Etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra “Business Etiquette: A Guide for the Indian Professional”
The business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra “Business etiquette: A Guide for the Indian Professional” caught my attention long time ago. Recently I had the opportunity to read it and now I would like to share the 7 things that I particularly loved about this book.
Shital Kakkar Mehra is one of the most experienced practitioners of corporate etiquette and international protocol in India today. She has trained over three thousand executives of Indian as well as large multinational companies, helping them upgrade their soft skills. Some of her clients include Accenture, KPMG, Aditya Birla Group, Oracle, Merrill Lynch, Johnson & Johnson, Mahindra & Mahindra, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Sony Entertainment etc. Her articles have been published across business dailies and magazines, such as The Economic Times, Jet Wings, People & Management, Career Launcher, MICEtalk and several others. She was also a guest speaker at the Indian School of Business Hyderabad, IIM Bangalore, BMA, NHRD, Bombay Chamber of Commerce, FICCI Flo and IIM Lucknow. The business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra “Business Etiquette: A Guide for the Indian Professional” (25,000 copies sold so far) can be found in the libraries of Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Stanford and Cambridge.
Shital Kakkar Mehra serves at Katalyst, an NGO for underprivileged girls and as a Board Member for the Third Sector Partners (TSP), a company that improves leadership calibre and proficiency in the socio-developmental sector. You can follow her on Twitter @bizmanners and visit her websites at: http://www.isceip.com or http://www.shitalkekkarmehra.com
7 Things I love about the business etiquette book
by Shital Kakkar Mehra
# 1 – The FAQ section
At the end of each chapter there is a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section which presents some highly interesting day-to-day dilemmas with the ideal solution. For example: “My job involves cross-border business. Should I display my Indian identity or dilute it by applying the global ways of doing business?” In this book the reader will get answers to 44 different scenarios that one can easily relate to.
# 2 – The in-depth information
Whatever topic the book author presents, you will notice a lot of in-depth information and advice that other similar etiquette books cover only in a superficial way. For example:
In many etiquette books you will learn about dining etiquette (e.g. the ideal wine-food combination) but in this book (in the “Dining and Entertaining Finesse” section) you will also learn about 10 different types of cheese and what the specific cheese-wine combination should be. Never seen before, great!
In many etiquette books you will come across odour-related issues and how to deal with them. But in the business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra you will find the answer to mouth odour, smoker’s odour, body odour and feet odour!
In many etiquette books you will learn about the importance of accepting compliments graciously. This book provides interesting insights on how compliments are being perceived in different parts of the world and gives you concrete examples of what you should NOT say (rejecting the compliment, underplaying it, making others look stupid, being cocky, deflecting the compliment or being completely lost for words).
# 3 – Well researched resources
The fact that also other interesting book resources have been mentioned showed that the book author researched her topic well and also didn’t hesitate to give credit where credit is due. It motivated me to put some of them on my reading wish list.
# 4 – Some personal (international) experiences
Shital Kakkar Mehra used the power of storytelling by sharing some of her own or other business professionals’ personal experiences. This approach worked very well since it helped to emphasise certain points. Adding personal episodes is something that always adds credibility and makes the whole message more memorable and meaningful.
# 5 – The comparison: Indian vs. International Etiquette
I really loved the comparisons between Indian etiquette and other countries’ etiquette rules in this book. Usually etiquette books focus only on one specific country’s etiquette rules (depending on the book author’s nationality) or they talk about the different etiquette rules by listing them country by country.
The business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra had a bit a different approach in giving you the direct comparison between Indian customs and other Western or Asian countries, making also a comparison between monochromic and polychromic countries. For example, how Indians and Americans view contracts, Indian dress attire and international business attire, the seating protocol in Indian companies vs. the arrangement in China and Japan, how touching a stranger’s child and calling them cute is interpreted differently in India compared to Germany, the extent to which small talk should be discussed in Middle East, Latin America, Europe or Asia. Where in this world is alcohol consumption considered as an integral part of business entertaining and where is it an absolute taboo? In what countries is making personal calls at work considered normal and where would it be inappropriate? In this book you will find all these answers. For me personally, the most memorable example of cultural differences was the story of an Indian Executive and a German Executive when they visited each other’s countries (p. 276).
# 6 – The visual images
Out of all the etiquette books that I’ve read so far, the business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra is the only etiquette book that included the most useful images. It covers several topics in a very visual way. For example, do you know: the difference between a cut-away collar and a wing-tip collar, the difference between a single-breast suit and a double-breast suit, the meaning of hands clasped behind the back? Do you know how much the distance between the social/public zone and the personal zone is, how a Tom Collings glass and a highball glass look like? How do you exchange business cards at a cocktail party? Do you know where the principal guest, principal host and their interpreters are sitting at a table? What is the difference between a glove handshake and a bone-crusher handshake? In this book you will find all the answers to these questions and much more. Often just words don’t suffice, and seeing additional pictures makes it surely easier to remember. Well done for including visuals, it does make a difference!
# 7 – New interesting topics
There were some other new topics that general etiquette books don’t focus on in much detail. For example, elevator etiquette, safety tips for female business professionals when travelling abroad, dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace, restroom etiquette and international dining do’s and don’ts. Knowing the right etiquette rules when dealing with interpreters (before, during and after using their services) was a topic that was highly interesting. I did not find anything on this topic in other etiquette books so far. Learning about different types of bosses (the alcoholic boss, the workaholic boss, the bully, the bragging boss) and certain employees (gossip monger, the show-off, the human encyclopaedia, Mr/Ms Impolite, the over-friendly cling wrap) and how to deal with them is surely something everyone should learn!
How would I rate the business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra?
I would give the book “Business Etiquette: A Guide for the Indian Professional” a 9.5 out of 10. I would have given it a 10/10 if those professionals who were involved in publishing this book would have paid a bit more attention to detail. I was surprised to spot some mistakes here and there. However, I must say that after reading lots of books, it’s still a rarity nowadays to find a book that is 100 % flawless. I’m not a professional proofreader and English is my third language.
Being an Italian citizen, I do not fully agree with the description on how pasta – spaghetti and penne – should be eaten the authentic Italian way (see p. 229).
Would I recommend the business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra?
Yes, definitely! It gives business professionals very useful tips that are highly relevant in today’s competitive world. I consider it as not just useful for Indian professionals, but also for Westerners who want to do business with Indians in order to get a better understanding of their cultural differences. Even though I’ve lived and worked in India for 2 ½ years, there were still lessons that I could learn from this book which I didn’t know before.
Book Title: Business Etiquette: A Guide for the Indian Professional
Book Author: Shital Kakkar Mehra
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers (India)
Year of Publication: 2012
Number of pages: 295
Buy at: www.Amazon.com for $14.99 (paperback) or
www.Flipkart.com for currently INR 224 (instead of INR 299)
Content of the business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra:
- Business Communication (business conversation, non-verbal communication, digiquette, FAQ)
- Dress for Success (manage your visual image, impeccable grooming, business formal, business smart casual, the Indian woman executive, dress in international business, accessories, packing for business travel, FAQ)
- Civility at the workplace (business meetings, you at the office, cubicle manners, gender in business, visitors to your office, public spaces, personal space and privacy, FAQ)
- Networking for business (opportunities to network, improve your mingling quotient, conducting small talk, roadblocks to networking, the art of remembering names, smart ways to follow up, FAQ)
- Dining and entertaining finesse (business entertaining, business meals, understanding table settings, the courses of a meal, entertaining in international business, alcohols and spirits, FAQ)
- Social skills for the globe-trotting Indian (culture defined, meeting and greeting, people skills for business success, social skills for the business savvy, FAQ)
If you know someone who could also benefit from the business etiquette book by Shital Kakkar Mehra, please don’t hesitate to recommend it and spread the work about it. This is a great investment in your personal career, no matter whether you are Indian or Non-Indian!
Author: Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a trilingual Career Optimizer at www.Careerheads.com. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 20 years of international work experience in various industries in Italy, the UK and India. Her passion lies in creating multilingual, high-quality content in career matters, giving highly engaging public speeches and helping job seekers to optimize their career by providing professional coaching. She is the author of several ebooks, among them “44 Tips for a successful Video Interview” (http://careerheads.com/product/ebook-44-tips-for-a-successful-video-interview/). She has written several career and business articles for international HR and Marketing companies. Her favourite motto is “Learn from anyone, anywhere, anytime!” Follow her on Twitter @CareerHeads.