Croatia is an Eastern European country with an allure that can’t be denied. Perched right on the Mediterranean coast, this jewel of a destination is a romantic place to visit because of its panoramic views of the crystal blue water of the Adriatic Sea and because of its stunning old town. Croatia is located in Central and Southeastern Europe, and its capital is Zagreb. The main coastal city of Dubrovnik is an absolute must-see with its towering walls and Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Croatia’s temperate climate, mysterious caves, majestic Alps, and charming architecture promises to charm and enchant you. However, when traveling to Croatia for business, there are some customs and cultural norms that you might want to take note of.
The people of Croatia, known as Croats, are generally relaxed in their professional demeanor; however, they value a strong handshake and direct eye contact. Failing to make direct eye contact can give the impression that you’re weak or that you’re hiding something. Always remain standing until you’re invited to sit down because there might be seat reserved for you. Punctuality is expected and taken very seriously.
Much like other cultures, Croatians prefer to get to know you slowly in order to build a meaningful relationship with you. Your first business meeting will most likely be an introduction with a middle manager. The protocol for conducting business in Croatia is quite strict, so you must have patience with the system. Expect small talk in meetings, and be aware of the strict hierarchical structure that functions in the organizational system -- decisions are made at the top of the hierarchy. Also, beware of scheduling meetings on Fridays, as many Croatians are out of the office on this day. Many businesses are closed in August, so don’t schedule your business trip for that month.
Croatians value a direct, straightforward communication style. Meeting schedules are not very rigid, and people tend to stray from agendas in favor of discussions. Meetings are often lengthy, and it is preferable to ease into business because jumping into it abruptly can be considered as rude. Diplomacy is key, so make sure not to cause upset by choosing the wrong words. Also, unless you’re considered family or a close friend, don’t use first names of business associates.
Croatia’s beauty is best witnessed by seeing it in person. When you’re on your business trip to Croatia, be sure to visit Dubrovnik if you can. Experiencing this vibrant culture for yourself promises to be memorable, and doing business in this country should be a breeze if you know what to expect and prepare yourself accordingly for the cultural intricacies of the Croatian business world. Make sure to stay tuned for Lionbridge onDemand’s next Business Etiquette blog post!
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