Here’s what I’ve discovered after working with 1000’s of NRIs-

NRIs at FAANG companies, get comfortable with a speak-your-mind culture (“I can challenge my boss, as long as I back it up with data”) and with point blank professional questions (“What’s the update?”). 

So, NRIs sit back and relax and say whatever they want in office. But this doesn’t transfer to the work environment in some companies in India. 

In India, respect is the top base emotion people want to feel. You shouldn’t do or say anything that will potentially embarrass or disrespect anyone. 

Asking questions that sound like an order “Can you send me the file”— can make a sensitive co-worker become lava inside “Who does this patagonia-jacket-wearing NRI-return think he is.. my boss??”

NRI’s working with the goal of “I can challenge anything after radioing for a data backup” might piss off a boss, who isn’t familiar with this work style. Imagine an NRI pushing back “Do we really need this meeting? We could discuss it offline” & the manager feels insulted (“baijjatti ki”, as they call it in rural hindi) that their meeting was flagged as unnecessary.

Pissing off the boss has high consequences. A sensitive manager could rip you of daily peace.

Since the price for dis-respect is too high, the goal post for employees wanting peace, promo or a raise, shifts from “the right thing to do for the company” to “the right thing to do to keep the boss happy”.

This results in them maska maro-ing, speaking sweetly when the boss is around ” I assure you, this will get done at the earliest”, but back to rough talk “abe!”, when they are not. Or martyring themselves with a slow violin “I am sick, but I will still work”, or calling their boss a God, twice (true story at Google BLR :)).

NRIs are afraid of being around co-workers who do the maska thing, around managers who expect it & around anyone who doesn’t understand the NRIs strive for the separation of 9am-5pm from 5pm-9am through their “just get the job done” philosophy. 

NRI’s need to accept they need to learn how to deal with delivering “this meeting could have been done offline” sort of feedback itself offline & in milder words. Maybe soften everything by adding “kindly“. “Kindly send me the file” or “kindly give me the update”, and (kindly, of course) find a company where managers align with their thinking (like my co). It seems to work for me