Romanian Business Etiquette

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Bine ați venit (“Welcome” in Romanian)

Romania is a modestly-sized country located in southern Europe, resting between the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova. Romania has had a rocky history, including a stint as a German ally in WWII and a member of the socialist party up until the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

Since its transition back to capitalism in the late '80s, Romania has seen expansive economic growth. Some of the top industries include automobile and machine production, petroleum, and exportation of energy.

Before you take off to explore Romania, let’s first learn about the dos and don’ts of Romanian business etiquette.

The Lowdown

  • The capital of Romania is Bucharest, which is also its largest city. Don’t get it confused with the similar-sounding Budapest, the capital of Hungary!
  • The official language of Romania is Romanian, which is the only Romance language in Eastern Europe. A small percentage of the population also speaks Hungarian.
  • Approximately 89% of the population identifies ethnically as Romanian– the remaining percentage is mostly composed of Hungarians.
  • Romania is a secular state, but most citizens are of the Eastern Orthodox religion.
  • Romania is a unitary semi-presidential republic (there is a president and a prime minister).
  • Fun fact: Romania has the largest amount of gold resources of any country in continental Europe. Romania also has the only "gold museum" in Europe, located in the city of Brad. The name of the museum is the Mineralogical Collection of Brad.

Dressing Sharp

  • Romanian business dress is quintessentially European: dark-colored suits with a light shirt and tie for men, and dark-colored suits or dresses for women.
  • Women oftentimes wear long skirts outside of the workplace.
  • Keep your attire clean and conservative.

Make or Break Meetings

  • Meetings should be scheduled a few weeks in advance. Avoid making meetings during the summer months, as this is when many Romanians take vacation. 
  • Older people are highly respected in Romania. They are seen as wise and more mature than younger folks. Keep this in mind if you meet a business contact of advanced age.
  • Be on time! Although the Romanian party may keep you waiting, you should not keep them waiting. 
  • The initial meetings will often be very formal.
  • Greet the Romanian party with a firm handshake and good eye contact. 
  • Some Romanian men may kiss the hand of a woman upon greeting; however, if you are a foreigner, you won't be expected to kiss anyone's hand.
  • If you know the professional title of the Romanian party, use it.
  • There's no established ritual for the exchange of business cards, however here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to your card:
    • Have one side translated into Romanian.
    • If your company has been in business for at least a half-century, print this on the card. Romanians will want to work with a company they perceive as financially stable.
    • Romanians are big fans of advanced degrees - if you have one, print it on your card!

Dining Decorum

          Romanian cabbage rolls, or sarmale

          Romanian cabbage rolls, or sarmale

  • You should arrive on time for all dinner engagements. If you are attending a party, it is acceptable to arrive a few minutes late.
  • As a rule of thumb, dress as nicely as you would to go to the office.
  • Before eating commences, the host will usually say "pofta buna," which means "good appetite."
  • Table manners are Continental and (usually) formal. Follow the lead of your Romanian business contacts if you are unsure of what to do.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table, and refrain from putting your napkin in your lap.
  • When you are finished eating, cross your utensils across your plate.

Giving and Getting Gifts

  • Gifts are not a standard part of the business relationship; however, if you are invited to a Romanian's home, it is polite to bring a gift for the host and/or the host's children.
  • Acceptable gifts include: candy, chocolate, flowers, or quality liquor.
  • If you decide to gift flowers, make sure to give an odd number. Romanians are fond of roses and carnations.
  • Gifts are typically opened upon receipt.

Down to Business

  • Romanians, like many others, prefer to do business with people they know. They are also very slow negotiators. Because of these two factors, you should expect the negotiation process to be quite lengthy. 
  • Presentations should be factual, formal, and precise. Do not overstate the capabilities of your company.
  • It is wise to hire an interpreter to bring with you to negotiation meetings.
  • Romanians are indirect in their communication style and like to avoid confrontation; as such, they may not be straight with you. Because of this, you should also ensure that your pitch is not too aggressive.
  • Romanians are tough negotiators and like to take their time to make sure they are not being bilked.
  • Romanian business is hierarchical, so final decisions will be made from the top down.

Now that you're well prepared for your next jet-setting business trip to Romania, don't forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb!

La revedere (‘‘Goodbye” in Romanian)

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