Business Etiquette in the Czech Republic

Success in the foreign market often depends on the way your business is perceived by your partners. Not infrequently economic factors are just as important as the confidence, reliance and trust in your company. The contact between two different cultures in international business is inevitable. It is the responsibility of the incoming culture to adjust to local customs in order to facilitate good relations between the two entities and secure a successful business deal.

Ensuring clients’ success is part of our work here at Conbiz s.r.o. It is known that Czech people are initially rather unwilling to open up to strangers. With this in mind, how can an Israeli business person win their confidence and make a good impression? We have prepared several tips.

What can you expect?

Engage in small talk – This is great way to break the ice. Don’t hesitate to comment on the weather or to compliment the design of your host’s open office area while being taken to the meeting room. Czechs tend to constantly complain about the weather. Therefore, don’t take their critique of a nice sunny day too seriously. Also, do not be too informal.

Give people time to reach a decision – Business in the Czech Republic is hierarchical and decisions are reached slowly. Decision making power often rests in the hands of the highest ranking managers. It can take time for the matter to find its way to them. However, the rest of the workers will not dare question the result. If you want to make things go faster, try to target the highest figure of authority.

Don’t address your counterparts by their first name – If you don’t consider each other close friends, don’t address your business partner by his/her first name. It is not uncommon for even friends to use their titles while in a business meeting with a stranger. Czechs refer to each other as Ms./Mrs./Mr. and sometimes you may encounter use of an academic title, Mgr./Ing./Doc. etc. (Magister, Engineer, Docent,…).

Personal space is important – A decent handshake and a direct look in the eyes is enough when meeting a business partner of either gender.

Expect indirect communication – Czechs are very careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings or to arouse disappointment. Their way of expressing rejection might be misunderstood by foreigners. Instead of saying “no” they rather use “It is difficult”, “We will see” or “We will try to get to that later”. Try to avoid high-pressure tactics to convince the other party as this might have the opposite result.

Other ideas

  • Formal dress is expected when doing business. Some companies are more relaxed, but unless you know for sure it’s safer to go with a tie.

  • Let your business partner know well ahead of time that you would like to meet and avoid setting a meeting on Friday afternoon or on the weekend. Always be on time.

  • It’s okay to an bring inexpensive gift to thank your business partner for their time. But know that the company policy of many businesses prohibits its workers from accepting gifts. Don’t take it personally.

  • Language can be an issue. Older business people in the Czech Republic may hesitate to speak English at a business meeting even though they might know the language. This is caused partially by the fear that they won’t be able to catch everything you say to them and partially by their self-consciousness.

Conbiz s.r.o. is prepared to deal with any obstacles you encounter in the foreign market. For more information contact us.