Communication is probably the most important aspect of doing business, yet we tend to take it for granted when doing business in our own country because we are dealing with people that speak the same language as us.
The following section is divided into three areas: communication, working practice, and eating out. It explains the differences between face-to-face communication, and dealing with people via the telephone or by letter/fax etc. How important is it to address people by their correct title? How should you introduce yourself? Should you always give your business cards? How important is it to get things agreed in writing?
We think that this covers most business situations. By reading this section, you should be sufficiently well equipped with the basic ‘ground rules’ for doing business in Croatia.
- http://www.communicaid.com/cross-cultural-training/culture-for-business-and-management/doing-business-in/Doing-business-in-Croatia.php (communicaid)
Croatians are often direct and view soft-spoken or shy people as vulnerable and weak. Eye contact is essential and is considered a sign of respect. Croatians enjoy irony and dark humour and will often laugh at difficult situations and personal flaws. Croatians find humour in sarcasm and do not typically change their tone of voice or facial expression when telling a joke. For these reasons, it can be difficult for foreigners to understand Croatian humour. Croatians tend to tease others, especially foreigners, but mean no ill will and expect you to behave in the same manner towards them.
Personal space is important, but a large distance indicates dislike. Croatians are personable and will want to know about your family and where you come from. Do not talk about money or personal problems, because they view this as a sign of weak character and the discussion will leave your colleagues feeling uneasy.
Croatian society is formal, but in the business environment they prefer personal contact. They also like to get to know business partners in a less formal setting, giving them opportunity to see another side of their partners without affecting the business opportunity.
Most Croatian business people/managers are multi-lingual and the main business languages apart from Croatian are English, German and Italian (used mainly in the coastal areas of Istria). Nowadays, most of the younger managers speak fluent English, which should negate the need for an interpreter. However, a foreign business partner should always ask before the meeting whether an interpreter is required in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation. It is also advisable to learn a few greeting phrases in Croatian just to break the ice at the beginning of the meeting.
Croatians prefer face to face to written communication, because it gives you the opportunity to look into the eyes of your business partner and gauge their commitment to the project. Written documentation is needed in most business situations for formal arrangements and providing a basis for discussion.
In order to find information about possible partners in Croatia, you can visit the websites of the following organizations: Croatian Chamber of Economy, Union of Industry, trade department of Croatian Embassies abroad, Croatian Agency for Small Businesses and many more.
- http://www.vlada.hr/en/adresar_i_linkovi/javni_sektor/hrvatska_agencija_za_malo_gospodarstvo_hamag (Croatian Agency for Small Businesses)
- http://www2.hgk.hr/en/ (Chamber of Economy)
Personal contacts are similar to the rest of Europe, during introduction you extend your right hand to shake while saying your greetings like good morning, afternoon or evening and stating clearly either only your surname name or your full name so that the other person can hear and understand what you said.
Most professionals are addressed according to their qualification or their position at work. Titles according to education are Bachelor (prvostupnik), Master (magistar struke), Doctor of Science or Doctor of Arts (dr. sc. or dr. art.), Doctor of Medicine (doktor medicine). If you are unsure of titles then use “Gospodin” for Mr, “Gospodja” for Mrs and “Gospodična” for Miss). Only close friends and family members tend to use first names. Never jump to first names terms without being invited to.