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Business etiquette

Business etiquette

Meeting and Greeting

. Slovak businesspeople initially take a formal and distant approach to people in business. Be prepared for a seemingly cold reception at first.
. This approach is however changing and a younger generation becomes more involved in business. They are more willing to dispense of protocol and a slightly less level of formality will be used.
. It is best to let your colleagues determine the level of formality used.
. Handshakes should be firm and confident.
. Include the appropriate greeting for the time of day (see above).
. Wait for a woman to extend her hand.
. Academic and professional titles are commonly used in business situations; if the person does not have such a title, the honorific titles “Pan” or “Pani” and the surname are used.
. First names are rarely used until a personal relationship has developed, and even then they are seldom used in business.
. Wait to be invited before moving to first names.
. Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
. It is a nice touch to have one side of your card translated into Slovak.
. Include any advanced university degrees on your business card.
. If your company has been in business for more than 20 years, include its founding date on your card as well.

Communication Style

. While direct communication is valued in Slovakia, there is also an emphasis placed on finessing what is being said so that information is delivered in a sensitive way. Often, the level of the relationship will determine how direct someone is. For newly established and more formal relationships, a great deal of emphasis will be placed on diplomacy. But once a relationship has passed through the initial phases, people feel more comfortable speaking frankly with each other.
. Since tradition is valued, it is often helpful to give a bit of historical background or context before starting a meeting or new program. Slovaks do not need a tremendous amount of background information to feel comfortable proceeding with a transaction, although they do require some information and may ask questions until they feel comfortable and are able to proceed satisfactorily. . Body language, body posture and tonal delivery are important enhancements to the verbal message, adding emphasis or additional meaning to the words.

Business Meetings

. Organisational cultures differ widely in Slovakia, but generally meetings are conducted by the most senior person present who sets the agenda, the content, and the pace. The purpose is usually to communicate information and decisions that have already been made rather than to brainstorm or discuss. Employees may be called on to corroborate or clarify facts and statistics, but will not usually be asked to collaborate.
. Meeting schedules are not very rigid in Slovakia. There may be an agenda, but it serves as a guideline for the discussion and acts as a springboard to other related business ideas. As relationships are highly important in this culture, there may be some time in the meeting devoted to non-business discussions. Time is not considered more important than completing a meeting satisfactorily, so meetings will go on until they come to a natural ending.