Differences between India and Norway, the meaning of “YES”

Hi everyone
On one of my first ever blog posts I wrote about differences between India and Norway. Now I think there is time for an update of that… In the months I have been here, I have off course seen a lot of differences. One of them is how the word “YES” is being interpreted. Let me be clear immediately that I don’t say that the one way or the other is the best one.
As I studied law some (many) years ago, I would like to take a legal approach when I look at the differences here. In Norway, it is actually written in laws that a written OR oral declaration both is binding for the person who expresses it. This all follows from laws that were written last century! In special cases, only written agreements are accepted, but then this must be written in that special law. I must admit that I really don’t know much about Indian legislation, but I honestly find it extremely difficult to believe that there is something there. In order for anything to be valid here, it seems like it has to be written, stamped, made in five copies and signed by the person with the highest authority. And even then it can off course be interpreted different by different people. The so-called “grey areas” that is so common here… And everyone in India like to say “YES” everytime.
So how does this affect the everyday life? Well, as most people here in India seems to agree that this is the way things is, it does not seem to be much problems here. People kind off accepts that a “YES” is just a temporarily agreement, or maybe just a suggestion. If you have agreed to meet someone at a specific time or place, you should not expect the person to be here, even if he or she has said yes. So how does that work? Well, if everyone has the same perception, then it works. If you don’t show up for the agreement and I don’t show up for the agreement, well, then both of us simply do something else. Off course, for me, who are used to the Norwegian style, this have been extremely frustrating from time to time.
The best way to cope with this, I think, is to get confirmations. Call up the person who have promised something and ask again. And again. And preferably again. That way you can at least find out that the person will actually not show if.

This is off course more difficult when it comes to business. My experience there is that you have to be extremely clear in whatever communication you make. It has to be crystal clear what you expect to happen. What is just a suggestion? What is actually agreed up on? And even if things are agreed up on, do check it one more time.
So if you ask anyone here; did India really beat Australia in the cricket world cup yesterday, you can be sure that they will say “YES, YES”. But well, I did see the fireworks and people celebrating after the match, so in this case I can confirm it is actually correct. And this mean that India will meet Pakistan in the semi-final. But that is another story, and I will tell more about that later…
Talk to you soon!
Karsten

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One thought on “Differences between India and Norway, the meaning of “YES”

  1. In eastern philosophies, it is pften claimed that when some one says yes in a conversation, it is just acknowledging that one is being attentive and listening to what you have to say. However an evaluation of the proposition under the conversation will be performed later. This is typical of India, China even Japan.

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