As with many Central and Eastern European countries, English language levels tend to be very high and this is especially true amongst the younger generation – many of whom have worked or studied outside their own country.
Therefore, it is unusual for the services of a translator to be needed but it might be politic to check in advance. (Remember that many senior managers are older and that their English language levels may be weaker than their younger colleagues. Senior managers remain senior managers however and will probably be the decision makers. Don’t ignore the senior people because their English is weakest.)
Czechs would see themselves as non-confrontational and their communication patterns reflect this psychological approach. Their speech patterns can be indirect and they will go out of their way to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings. It is, therefore, difficult to get a direct ‘no’ from a business contact. People would prefer to talk around the subject and prevaricate rather come out with an outright rejection. (This is in stark contrast to many of their neighbours such as Poland or Germany who are extremely direct and believe in saying exactly what they think at all times.)
When Czechs do disagree with you, they will often lower their eyes and become silent. Don’t push the issue at this point – move on and come back to it later.
As has already been stated, there tends to be very little visual or verbal feedback during meetings in the Czech Republic. People listen silently and with little obvious body language being displayed. People will tend to wait and think before responding to a point made to them – do not be impatient. Allow Czechs the time and space needed to consider your points and to reply to them at their own pace.
Titles are often used in business situations and are considered highly prestigious. Academic titles are often used before the surname and it might be seen as disrespectful to dispense with this formality.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in the Czech Republic. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in the Czech Republic and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: