WORKING ABROAD / AUG. 10, 2014
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How to Master Business Etiquette in Austria

Austria is one of the most historic places in all of Europe. The Schonbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Cathedral and the Prater are just some of the destinations to visit when you arrive in Austria. Of course, Austria is more than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Erich von Stronheim, Archduke Charles or Herbert von Karajan, it’s also an important business district and economic hub.

With a gross domestic product of $361 billion, it maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union (4.9 percent) and a three percent budget deficit. Its primary industries consist of construction, machinery, tourism, vehicles and food.

Indeed, Austria has a stable market economy with a skilled labor force that enjoys a high standard of living. Although it’s situated in an unstable regional territory, Austria still has plenty to offer to those who wish to do business in Austria or establish a new career in a foreign country.

Here are five business etiquettes to know in Austria:

Communication

Of course, German is the primary language of Austria. However, since it resides near many countries that suffer from domestic strife and weak economies, there are many languages being spoken, such as Turkish, Serbian, Hungarian, Carinthia and Slovene.

Despite the different language, Austrians still perform the standard customs: individuals who meet for the first time shake hands when greeting one another – when men and women greet it’s best to wait for the lady to initiate the handshake. As time goes by and you become more acquainted with others then a simple hello and light hug will suffice.

Austrians are direct but rather polite in what they say. There is a tendency to be reserved in first meetings, but they will open up as they get to know you. Honesty and straightness are traits that Austrians share in conversations, whether they’re strangers or longtime friends.

Dress Code

Attire varies from industry to industry. However, it can be defined as business casual: men will wear conservative outfits (suits, shirt and tie) and women will sport modest business suits, dresses or pants with a blouse. It’s crucial to make sure your shoes and boots are clean and polished.

Greetings

It’s important to understand the difference between “gruss gott,” which is similar to hello/good morning/afternoon/evening, and “gruss dich,” which is akin to hey. The former is uttered in formal instances, while the ladder is said in more casual situations.

Professional Titles & Business Cards

In an initial meeting, it’s wise to use Mr. (Herr) and Mrs. (Frau) followed by their title and surname. If the other person introduces themselves with their first name then you are permitted to address them as such, but only if any specific instructions are omitted.

Although there are no specific rules when it comes to giving and receiving business cards, the common sense approach is to treat them with care and respect.

Punctuality

This is one of the most important values in Austria: punctuality. It is expected of each person to be prompt for appointments, meetings and services – deadlines and agendas are required to be met without excuses. In social arrangements, it’s best to not be more than 10 to 15 minutes late.

Austria is a beautiful, clean and historic nation, and its people, which have gone through hard times in the past, most notably during the First and Second World Wars, are organized, polite and hard working. They expect the same characteristics from their fellow men. When you’re in Vienna, Salzburg, Linz or Klagenfurt, you must abide by the same series of customs.

Have you previously conducted business in Austria? Let us know in the comment section.

Photo by cocoparisenne via Pixabay.

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