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Slovakia - Business Culture

Slovakia has a fairly formal and traditional business culture. Business relationships are built largely on trust, respect and credibility; your Slovakian business contacts will want to know about your personal experience and qualifications before business negotiations can begin.

The official language is Slovak, and although some Slovakian business people speak English you may need to arrange for an interpreter. Your written materials should be translated into Slovak and copies provided for everyone attending the meeting.

Appointments should be arranged in advance and you should arrive on time, as punctuality is valued in Slovakian business culture. Try to avoid the holiday months of July and August when many business close for extended periods.

Slovakians are generally warm but reserved. The usual greeting is a firm handshake with direct eye contact, although close friends may kiss one another on each cheek. Other physical contact is not normal among Slovakians in the business setting.

Professional or personal titles (Pan for Mr, and Pani for Mrs or Ms) should be used, along with family names; you may be invited to use first names once the relationship is established.

A little small talk is common at the outset of meetings, then everyone will be expected to introduce themselves and get down to business fairly quickly. Business partners may be served with a coffee or a glass of water.

Meetings are usually chaired and dominated by the most senior person of the Slovakian team, who will set the agenda. This will be strictly adhered to, as will any action points agreed at the meeting.

Slovakian communication styles are direct but also diplomatic, with care being taken not to offend others, especially new contacts. When familiarity has been established in the later stages of business relationships, Slovakians often open up and speak more frankly.

Since business is hierarchical in Slovakia, decisions are usually made by a senior person, with little consultation of others.

Although face to face meetings are preferred for business negotiations, Slovakians also like to record all the key points in writing.

Small gifts are acceptable in Slovakian business culture, including for example office stationery, good quality pens or wine. If you are invited to a Slovakian home, you should take a gift of flowers or chocolates.

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