The real world is far more different than what you might think. The differences in culture may be neat when you're traveling, but when you're working, it's a whole other ball game! You have to adjust to how people do it where you are right now. How you do business in your own home turf may be completely different from how they do it to where you traveled to. Take Belgium, for instance. In this country, you have to present yourself a little differently from how you would in other countries. Just how much? Here's what you need to know!
Always Address with Titles
In corporate settings, you should only address people with a title and their surnames. No matter how familiar you are with each other, once you're on the clock, you can't refer to each other by your first names. Even more so if you're not that well-acquainted with them! For Belgians, mixing business with pleasure is a huge taboo. They might mix it in certain situations, but for the most part, it's better to keep the two separate. That's why you always have to address each other with the appropriate titles and surnames.
Appearances Matter Here
When working in Belgium, you always have to keep up appearances. They matter a lot in this corporate world here. In fact, many even go so far as to flex their personal style with their business formal. However, there's no requirement that you have to wear French designer suits
or anything like that! All you have to do is to wear the appropriate attire and act accordingly. For men, a well-tailored suit and tie are more than enough, especially when paired with polished shoes. Women, on the other hand, have the choice of either a suit or dress, provided the latter doesn't show too much skin.
Compromises Make The Difference
You can't exactly avoid conflicts while at work, even here in Belgium. There will be many instances in which you will disagree with your co-workers and colleagues—at times, even clients too!—that will inevitably lead to an impasse. When that happens, your only solution is to compromise. At least, that's what Belgian professionals will do. People here don't like disagreements to take a huge toll on their work, no matter how big or small it is. They'd prefer that both sides compromise to sooner accomplish the tasks at hand. You won't hear long-drawn arguments here anytime soon!
Ask Questions in Private
Although Belgium's corporate world is pretty hierarchal, it's not uncommon for subordinates to ask their superiors some questions. However, they don't do it during meetings. If you have a question to ask your manager/leader, it's best to ask it in private. Not unless they specifically leave out sometime during the meeting for any questions. If they don't yet have one, it's best to ask them directly in private. It's not necessarily an issue of embarrassing your superior or questioning their leadership or anything like that. It's simply the way they do it here.
Different Regions Have Different Business Cultures
It's no secret that Belgium is made up of different regions, mostly differentiated by ethnicity or language. Unbeknownst to many, the different regions in this country have their own respective business cultures too. In the Walloon region, for instance, they're more into following a hierarchal system where the superior has more power than his/her subordinates. While in the Flemish community, on the other hand, colleagues treat each other equally regardless of position. In any case, this is why it's better for international companies to employ a more diverse team, one that employs people from most, if not all regions. This can also help stabilize Belgium’s job market
Business Meals Seal the Deals
Finally, when doing business in Belgium, going out for lunch or dinner can help you seal the deal. No matter how formal and upright Belgians can be in the office, there's always room for food in the corporate world here. Fortunately, major business hubs like Brussels and Antwerp have many excellent restaurants where you can take your clients out. But when doing so, make sure to reserve all the business talk at the end of the deal. While the food is being served, let your clients enjoy what they ordered, talk to them a bit and get to know them a little, and then talk business when everyone is done!
Going to Belgium for work soon? You should know that they have their own ways of doing business. You'd do well to know some of them and follow them while you're there. It can help you adjust or even seal the deal there!
Perhaps going for a luxury home in Belgium
will make it easier for you to do business here? It's possible!