Business Etiquette in Austria

Business Etiquette and Protocol in Austria

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Relationships & Communication

o First impressions are important and you will be judged on your clothing and demeanour.
o Although Austrians prefer third-party introductions, they do not need a personal relationship in order to do business.
o They will be interested in any advanced university degrees you might have as well as the amount of time your company has been in business.
o Austrians show deference to people in authority, so it is imperative that they understand your level relative to their own.
o It is imperative that you exercise good manners in all your business interactions.
o There is little joking or small talk in the office as they are serious and focused on accomplishing business objectives/goals.
o Communication is formal and follows strict rules of protocol.
o Always use the formal word for you 'sie' unless invited to use the informal 'du'. Address people by their academic title and surname.
o You may be referred to simply by your surname. This is not a culture that uses first names except with family and close friends.
o Austrians are suspicious of hyperbole, promises that sound too good to be true, or displays of emotion.
o In many situations, Austrians will be direct to the point of bluntness. This is not an attempt to be rude, it is simply indicative of their desire to move the discussion along.
o Expect a great deal of written communication, both to back up decisions and to maintain a record of discussions and outcomes.

Business Meeting Etiquette

o Appointments are necessary and should be made 3 to 4 weeks in advance when meeting with private companies.
o Do not try to schedule meetings in August, the two weeks surrounding Christmas, or the week before Easter.
o Punctuality is taken extremely seriously. If you expect to be delayed, telephone immediately and offer an explanation.
o It is extremely rude to cancel a meeting at the last minute and it could ruin your business relationship.
o Meetings are formal.
o Presentations should be accurate and precise.
o Have back-up material and be prepared to defend everything: Austrians are meticulous about details.
o Meetings adhere to strict agendas, including starting and ending times. If you have an agenda, it will be followed.
o Follow-up with a letter outlining what was agreed, what the next steps are, and who is the responsible party.

Business Negotiation

o Do not sit until invited and told where to sit. There is a rigid protocol to be followed.
o Meetings adhere to strict agendas, including starting and ending times.
o A small amount of getting-to- know-you conversation may take place before the business conversation begins.
o Austrians are more concerned with long-term relationships than making a quick sale.
o Rank and position are important. Since most companies are relatively small, it is often quite easy to meet with the decision- maker.
o Business is conducted slowly. You will have to be patient and not appear ruffled by the strict adherence to protocol.
o Austrians are very detail- oriented and want to understand every innuendo before coming to agreement.
o Avoid confrontational behaviour or high-pressure tactics. It can work against you.

What to Wear?

o Business dress is conservative and follows most European conventions.
o Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits with white shirts.
o Women should wear either business suits or conservative dresses, complimented with elegant accessories.

Business Cards

o Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
o Have one side of your card translated into German. Although not a business necessity, it demonstrates an attention to detail.
o Include any advanced academic degrees or honours on your business card.
o If your company has been in business for a long time, include the founding date on your card as it demonstrates stability.

For further information about Austria, please see below: