Czech Republic: Public Behaviour

2015-06-12

Initial greetings are formal and reserved. Most greetings include a handshake, direct eye contact, and the appropriate greeting for the time of day.

When greeting your Czech counterparts for the first time, administering a firm handshake and establishing direct eye contact (and maintaining it while speaking) are essential indications that your business dealings are sincere and honest. Expect some small talk and getting-to-know-you (introductory) conversation before entering into business discussions with your Czech partner. The initial business manner adopted by many in the Czech Republic is predominantly one of formality and caution, but a good joke helps to establish more informal relations. The Czechs take a reserved and often impersonal approach to business meetings, during which trust and friendship are slowly cultivated. However, as the Czech Republic moves closer towards Western management styles, more open methods of business, in the form of business lunches and such meetings, is increasing in popularity.

In Czech business culture, the preliminary stages of negotiation can be slow and detailed. This is a direct outcome of the Czech tendency to avoid the unknown. Your Czech colleagues will be reluctant to digress from business protocol or show signs of flexibility during negotiations. Establishing and securing trust is a crucial element of the negotiation process, even up to the closing of a business deal. For this reason, it is rare to seal deals with spoken agreements as any renegotiating may damage your business credibility.

Czechs celebrate what are known as “name days.” Each day in the year is assigned a Czech name and is honoured in the same way as a birthday. You should send greeting cards for “name days” and for Christmas. Czechs really appreciate your effort in trying to speak their language and know their history. You can learn some basic Czech words, like hello (ahoj), good morning (dobry den), goodbye (nashledanou), thank you (dekuji) and please (prosìm).