Doing Business in RomaniaFor the globe-trotting international business person doing business in foreign country offers certain intercultural challenges. Do I shake hands? What are taboos? Do they negotiate like me? Understanding a country's business culture, protocol and etiquette is important in achieving success abroad.
This guide to doing business in Romania offers some introductory points to some of the above mentioned areas such as business culture and etiquette. It is not intended to summarise all 'doing business tips' nor meant to stereotype. Rather, it highlights some important key areas for consideration when doing business in Romania such as how to meet and greet, communicate and conduct business meeting.
Meeting & Greeting:
Although Romanians a very personable, initially business is somewhat reserved and formal. Romania is a country that still places an emphasis on good manners and demeanour, so one should endeavour to present themselves professionally at all times.
When doing business in Romania shake hands with people upon arrival and also when leaving. It is good form to wait for a women to extend her hand; older Romanian men may still kiss a woman's hand but this practice is slowly dying out.
Romania is a hierarchical culture. Respect and deference is shown to those that are older or more senior. As a result titles are very important as they demonstrate a high esteem; when doing business in Romania it is courteous to use someone's title whether academic or professional. If no title is obvious then use "domnule" for a man and "doamna" for a woman with the surname.
Romania is a relationship driven culture but at the same time very private. It takes a while to earn trust, but once this happens it opens many doors. At first people are generally shy and quiet. Once you develop a personal relationship Romanians will open up. Maintain a relatively formal approach in communication - always polite, do not ask personal questions and stick to a last-name basis until asked not to.
The communication style is a mix of direct and indirect. While being straightforward is valued in Romania, there is also an emphasis placed on delivering information 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.
In Romania eye contact can be very direct and is a sign of respect. If you are from a culture where intermittent eye contact is more prevalent, you may initially feel uncomfortable. Looking away will be interpreted either as lack of interest or rudeness.
Meetings & Negotiations:
Meeting schedules are not rigid in Romania. There may be an agenda, but it serves as a guideline for the discussion and can act as a springboard to other business. Remain flexible in your approach when doing business in Romania.
Negotiations can be tough. Decisions are only made by the most senior member of the Romanian party, so it is recommended to save concessions and the like until speaking meeting directly with them. Avoid confrontational behaviour or high-pressure sales tactics.
Contracts are seen as statements of intent rather than binding agreements. Note that decisions can be reversed and nothing is concrete when doing business in Romania.
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