The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for Austria – A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z
Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for Austria
Austrian business is based on respect, conservatism, courtesy and formality.
It’s best to dress professionally, and always shake hands when arriving and departing.
Displaying knowledge of Austrian history and culture demonstrates an awareness of the uniqueness of Austria.
Austrians may take offense against anyone who fails to recognize the clear distinction between them and the Germans. Austrian traditions are uniquely Austrian, so appreciate the distinctions.
The only thing that is truly German about Austria is the language and, even then, Austrian German is very different from standard or High German (Hochdeutsch) in vocabulary, idioms, and pronunciation.
In business, both German and English are widely spoken.
In business, courtesy titles Herr (‘Mr.’), Frau (‘Mrs.’) or Fräulein (‘Miss’) followed by the surname are still often used until invited to do otherwise.
Educational titles are important and often used in introductions.
Austrians expect you to mean what you say and say what you mean. Do not make idle promises during conversation.
Austrians have a great sense of humor, and they will accept your joking so long as you are somewhat self-deprecating at the same time.
Keep in mind, however, that humor has no place in formal meetings or in the office where senior staff is present.
Austrians plan their schedules well in advance and try to follow what they have pre-arranged on their calendars.
Expect Austrians to be very punctual, so be sure to return the courtesy. All punctual people dislike wasting time, and Austrians are no exception.
The most senior person(s) in a meeting usually takes the chair and controls the agenda.
There is little room for diverging from the agenda, and less tolerance of improvised discussion, so it is vital to be thoroughly well prepared for all meetings.
Austrians usually take a direct approach to negotiations, and relevant information is shared openly.
Negotiations are serious and important, so keep in mind that this is not the proper forum for humor.
Decision-making can be somewhat slow because Austrians tend to be risk-averse and make decisions methodically with tremendous precision.
Responsibility for decision-making lies mainly with those at the top, and all final decisions have been thoroughly considered.
Since decisions typically do come from the top, any action decided is likely to be implemented rather quickly.
Austrians aim for mutual benefit in all their business dealings and expect their respect and trust to be reciprocated. Agreements with Austrians are solid and can be relied on even in their pre-contract stage.
|5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips |
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos
- World War II and Austria’s role in the war can still be a sensitive topic, and anything that leads to a discussion around Anti-Semitism should be avoided.
- The Austrian religion is predominantly Catholic, so different religious views are not usually discussed.
- Austrians are a rather private culture, so talking about separation and divorce is usually avoided. Because of their private nature, Austrians also don’t usually discuss money matters outside of business
- It is an honor to be invited to an Austrian’s home, and it would be inappropriate not to be well dressed and to bring a modest gift. Austrian hospitality is warm with a degree of formality.
- Talking too much about your education, professional experience, business success, and related achievements may be considered a boasting.
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