Doing Business in AustriaFor the business person who works internationally, doing business in a foreign country brings with it certain intercultural communication challenges. From the simple differences in the way people meet, greet and eat to the more complex differences in communication, presentations and negotiation it is always a benefit to get to understand a country's business culture, protocol and etiquette.
This guide to doing business in Austria offers some introductory points around the topic of business culture and etiquette. It is not intended to summarise all 'doing business tips' nor meant to stereotype the Austrians. Rather, it highlights some important key areas for consideration when doing business in Austria such as how to meet and greet, communicate and conduct business meetings.
Meeting and Greeting
Handshakes are the norm in Austria when entering a meeting. It is important that you shake hands with all attendees and that your handshake is firm and confident and that eye contact is maintained.
Austrians adhere to a fairly formal culture and it is unlikely that body contact will progress beyond the handshake (e.g. pat on the back etc.) unless you are family or close friends.
When doing business in Austria you should use honorific titles where necessary. After the initial meeting, in which an individual will be introduced with their honorific title and surname, it the surname can be dropped and the honorific title only used.
If someone does not have an honorific title, then you should use 'Herr' to address a man and 'Frau' to address a woman with their surname.
You should wait for your Austrian hosts to determine when it's appropriate to move to the use of first names.
When doing business in Austria you will notice that Austrians are very direct in their communication and tend not to furnish their speech with pleasantries or non verbal body language cues. Since they expect to be taken at their word, you should therefore not take offence at this. Individuals from indirect cultures often it a challenge to accustom to this particular style.
Austrians only employ minimal body language when conversing and appreciate personal space during any interaction. You may find however, that as you get to know people better, that they become more animated or emotive in their communication.
Meetings and Negotiation
Austrians place great emphasis on supporting data and as such, if presenting an idea or proposal during a meeting, it is recommended that you back your presentation up with graphs or other supporting data which clearly demonstrates the points you are making.
You will find that your hosts are meticulous about detail and it is important therefore that the data is robust and does not lay grounds for challenge. You are also advised to have any materials translated into both English and German.
Business Culture GuidesWe offer free guides to doing business in many countries. Please visit Business Culture Guides for a full list.
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