BITS and Pieces

Get global. Get ahead.

Yes and No

Speak in a different language and you could look like a different person. That is probably why this French guest of ours found my friend to be very shy. In reality, he is a pedigreed brat, who can get on your nerves and under your skin, all at once. But the thing is that my friend can’t speak French to save his life and withdraws into his shell the moment someone speaks to him in English.

But do you realize how scary that is? It means that what we say or don’t say might help people form opinions about us, and probably incorrect ones at that. Indians are known to be a soft spoken, obedient, well mannered and cultured lot. But those perceptions could change the moment we resort to the Queen’s language.

Sample this. The average Indian when asked if they want some tea would respond with a plain and simple, “Yes” or “No”. At best, we might add something like a ‘sure’ or ‘absolutely’ to our affirmative answer or a ‘just had some’ to our negative answer.

But turns out that the natives do it differently. Unlike us, they respond with a little more than the mere use of the affirmative or the negative. It is standard parlance to say, “Yes please” or “No thank you”. Not using ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ could come across as rude, which we certainly aren’t and surely don’t mean to be.

So the next time you need to answer a yes-or-no question, make sure you add a ‘please’ after the ‘yes’ and a ‘thank you’ after the ‘no’. So much for coming across as the people we really are 🙂

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Sandeep Nulkar Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to bring credibility and recognition to the Indian translator within and outside India.