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Business negotiations with Eastern Europeans Business negotiations with Eastern Europeans
by Joseph Gatt
2019-07-25 09:25:31
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Every nation has its specificities and so do individuals. Sweeping generalizations on doing business with Eastern Europeans, in no particular order.

-First, maybe apart from the Baltic states where business can be held casually, most Eastern European states adopt a very formal approach to business. Some will prefer being called Mr. or Dr. while others will choose a first-name basis. Private matters are rarely discussed. Discussing business can be a very slow, tedious process.

-Second, minor note. People smoke everywhere. And they chain-smoke. Don't complain about the smoke-hazed places. Don't hint that you are bothered by the smoke.

easster01_400-Languages. You will have more luck if you speak Russian or French. Until very recently, Russian and French were taught seriously in Eastern Europe, and English not so much. If you're going to use an interpreter, keep in mind that translations will be of modest quality at best. And Eastern European interpreters tend to chime and negotiate instead of you. If that happens let them do it, because a lot of times it's because they are noticing foul play. Ask for a detailed report from your interpreter when the meeting's over.

-Eastern European men tend to be cool, unemotional, formal, quiet and calm. They will politely listen to your exposé, but won't react to it. They will need a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, to think about your ideas before they come back to you. Don't expect alcoholic drinks to lighten up their mood. If you plan to get anything done with them, don't expect to get anything done by next year, or the year after that.

-Networks are very opaque in Eastern Europe. You have to keep looking to find the people you are looking for. Governments tend to be off-limits to the average citizen, and business groups are rare or don't exist.

-In Eastern Europe, most business is approached from a very pragmatic approach. So if your Eastern European partners tell you something won't work, it probably won't work.

-Customer service does not exist in most Eastern European nations. If you offer customer service, local competing businesses will view that as a challenge to their business. So unfortunately, even when customer service is ethically the right thing to do, you will probably have to do away with customer service.

-Customers tend to be treated very coldly in most of Eastern Europe. Don't try to train your local employees to be warm with Eastern Europeans.

-Most Eastern European nations don't have formal statistics or formal price ranges. So you will want to wait for several months before you rent that hangar or choose that property, and you want to look around for several months to compare all the prices. Most property prices follow no rule whatsoever. You could get a 4-bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood for 300 dollars a month, and you could get a one-bedroom apartment in a crappy neighborhood for 1,000 dollars a month. Prices often make no sense.

In most of Eastern Europe, phone and internet prices are just crazy, very crazy. So you want to watch out when you make international calls.

-Finally, Eastern European business partners and customers tend not to be very loyal. So your business partner could disappear, without a clear reason. The saying that “everything happens for a reason” often does not apply to Eastern Europe. 


      
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