Every country works differently than the next. Even if a certain company operates internationally, how one branch in one country works can still be completely different from another. There's no global official guidebook on proper business etiquette for all countries. Some customs are rooted in a country's own traditions, heritage, and the like. Take Estonia, for instance. Sure, it's not a country known for its business and financial hubs, but the way they work here is far from the way the French, Italians, Spanish, and Dutch do it. Here are some of its unique business etiquette customs you ought to remember!
Estonians Are Very Formal
Surely, everyone is formal when it comes to business, right? No matter how loose the French are, how passionate the Italians act, or how loud the Spanish tend to get, when it comes to the corporate world, they become serious in a snap! Be that as it may, the Estonians are a lot more formal than other countries. At times, even to the point that they may seem aloof. But don't worry, they're not so heartless! It's just the way they are and how their customs
dictate them to be. In line with that, they'll also expect you to be as serious as they are when it's time to work!
Business Meetings Begin with Speeches
Most business meetings begin with speeches. No matter how big or small the matter is at hand, it's a custom here that the most senior members of the group speak first. Say you work for a business in a different country and you're invited to go to Estonia for a business meeting. The common way it goes is that the most senior member of the Estonian team would speak first. And then, after he/she is done, the most senior member in your team would respond with his/her own speech. This sort of interaction has helped drive Estonia's job market
in more ways than one!
Silence Says A Lot Here
Here in Estonia, while talking to another person in the corporate setting, silence says a lot. Remember that Estonians are mostly formal, pragmatic, and straightforward. When they talk to you, they expect a response. A saying nothing is as much response as saying something. For example, let's say you're in a business meeting and someone asks you if you agree with a proposal. If you stay silent, that will automatically convey that you have no objections and the meeting will push through with the next topic at hand. In relation to this, you might want to learn Estonian
if you're going to do business in Estonia!
Moderate Your Hand Gestures When Speaking
This Estonian business etiquette custom also touched on the Estonians' pragmatic quality within the corporate world. Estonians, as a whole, aren't as emotive as people from other counties. When you converse with them, it's likely that they're not as expressive with their bodies as they are with their faces. So within the corporate setting, it's better that you moderate your hand gestures. Though they understand that some people simply convey their thoughts better with their hands, they don't find it appealing or any more convincing than just speaking properly. You also might want to tone it down during your job interviews here too! You won't get a job
with too many hand gestures!
Business Lunches/Dinners are More Social Than Formal
Now, here's something that practically contradicts one of the earlier points! When it comes to having a business lunch/dinner with prospective clients, it's better to lessen the talk about work! You still have to pitch what you need to pitch and say what you need to say, but they don't have to dominate your conversation at the dinner table. Just sprinkle it in every once and a while just to remind them. But if you drive it home all meal long, they really won't appreciate it. No matter how serious they are in the boardroom when it comes to lunch/dinner, it's all about socializing!
Take Care of People's Business Cards
Business cards are important here in Estonia. So much so that people here prefer that you take good care of theirs when they give them to you. You may think that once they give their business cards to you, they won't care about it anymore, but they still will! Some would even go so far as to expect you to call them even though they only suggested that you do when they handed over their business cards. While others would actually take offense if they see that their business cards were crumples, ripped, and torn apart in your possession!
Even though Estonia isn't exactly a huge player in the corporate world, the country's business etiquette customs still matter. When you do business here, you'll benefit from knowing and acting on such customs. It may very well ensure a done deal!