A huge part of international business is being able to recognise, absorb and adapt to the unique culture of the country you’re working with. Many European nations share particular cultural values, such as their emphasis on having a great work–life balance, but each country has subtle nuances in business etiquette, customs and communication style that your team should know about when working in other European countries.
Doing business in Slovakia is not just about learning the language (though this is essential if you want to do business thoroughly and make an impact on your Slovak colleagues): it’s about knowing how to dress appropriately, greet your colleagues, when to speak during meetings, and grasping when, how and what to give as gifts.
As well as investing in Slovak language training and cultural training, here are some tips to ensure employees avoid culture shock and get the most out of doing business in Slovakia.
Don’t be pushy with meetings
Slovak business people are very formal in their approach to business, and, as such, it can be a lengthy process. Rather than specifying a date for a meeting, it is polite to give options, and indicate what you would like to discuss so that they can plan accordingly.
It is up to the host to organise the meeting (including the agenda and attendees).
Be sure to provide your colleagues with the necessary documents in Slovak.
Taking a Slovak language course will ensure the meeting runs smoothly and your host does not have to provide an interpreter.
Expect a formal greeting
Business in Slovakia is formal, distant and non-confrontational. A typical greeting involves a firm handshake and strong eye contact (to build trust), with the phrase ‘dobrý den’ (‘hello’). If your colleague is a woman, you should wait for her to offer her hand before shaking it.
Call your colleagues by their titles, followed by their surname – ‘Pan’ (‘Mr’) and ‘Pani’ (‘Mrs’) – for the duration of the business relationship, unless they specify otherwise.
Also, wait to be shown your chair before sitting down, as they may have saved a chair for you.
Know the best times to do business
The European penchant for a good work–life balance is quite literal in Slovakia, with many workers leaving early on Friday to spend time with their family. It is a good idea to schedule important meetings for earlier in the week, as this will ensure you have time to follow up with any queries before the weekend.
You should also avoid doing business in August, as many companies close or have limited staff available during this time.
Doing business in Slovakia is all about understanding the culture of its workers, and embracing this. Small touches – such as having one side of your business card printed in Slovak, or conversing with your colleagues in their own language – can have a big impact on your ongoing relationship. With a country like Slovakia, taking Slovak language lessons not only shows your willingness to work with them, but it also helps with grasping the cultural nuances.
Enquire now at Simon and Simon to find out more about Slovak language training.