The other day a colleague from an American University was narrating how he tried to get some research done in India. The endeavour had him talking to a company so he could have access to a sample that included the firm's customers. The funny thing was, the company put him through various rounds of exacting talks, almost as if they had to check him out on his antecedents completely, before they gave him access.

Access to what, you may ask, again? A sample of the firm's consumers. Imagine that. Multiple levels of meetings so the academic could have access to a sample who would be asked a few questions, so research could be done. The saddest part of the whole story was, after all these meetings, the professor goes back to his US university, waits for a go-ahead from the Indian firm, and guess what comes through? Zilch. No news. No, nothing.

Now, why am I telling you the story? So I could I tell you something that's commonplace in India. In the marketing world too.

You've heard of WYSIWYG? 'What you see is what you get'.

What about WYHINWIM? That's 'What you hear is not what it means'.

Extremely relevant in India. You must cramp enough to hear, not what's being said, but what's not being said. Listen to the unsaid. When a company says its interested in your research but wants to clear it before it gives you access to its customers, what it means is, We don't give a damn, All we want to prove to you is how sophisticated we are, and we ain't easy pushovers.

Yeah, call it pompous idiocy. But hey, that rules!

I remember as a kid the behaviour I would notice at meal tables when we were out visiting. When the host asked if you needed an extra helping, you're supposed to say, No, I am full, thank you, despite the fact your tummy's screaming for more. I have always wondered why this reluctance to state it the way it is. Like in an Indian family, the 'elder' could be mouthing the ridiculous, but you are supposed to take it as if it were the gospel. No questioning. Accept it.

Did I? Nah. Now you know why trouble's the middle name. Well, what about now? I plead the Fifth. :)

Marketers or anyone else from round the world, beware. What they say isn't necessarily what they mean. What you hear isn't necessarily what you get. For example, in India, the way you hunt for a place to stay on rental, needs you to get in touch with someone called a broker. And every time the broker tells you the house you could move in, is just around the corner, what he means is, its a few miles down the road in a place called nowhere. Now I don't know whether to call this deception, because for the broker, miles into nowhere is 'round the corner'.

To operate in India with success, the key's to read between the lines. To hear the unsaid. Because, WYHINWIM!


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