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Working abroad Tips & Tricks

Navigating European Workplace Etiquette

11 March, 2024 by Photo from Lisa Lisa  ◦  6 minutes reading time
do's and don'ts cultural etiquettes

Navigate the intricacies of global business etiquette! Discover the do's and don'ts in Spain, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Bulgaria. Read along to build stronger connections and create a positive working environment during your time abroad!

In today's interconnected global business landscape, understanding and respecting cultural differences is crucial for successful professional relationships. As you embark on your new journey abroad, it's essential to use your cultural compass and navigate different cultural etiquettes.Let's explore the do's and don'ts in Spain, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Bulgaria, helping you build stronger connections and foster a positive working environment for your time abroad!

Spain πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ

In Spain, warm greetings, including a handshake and direct eye contact, are appreciated. Punctuality is crucial for business meetings, while a more relaxed approach may be acceptable in social settings. Spanish workplaces often have a hierarchical structure, so it's essential to show respect to senior colleagues and use formal titles unless invited otherwise. Building trust is key, so take time to establish personal connections before delving into business discussions. Small talk is an integral part of Spanish culture, so engage in casual conversations before transitioning to business matters.

Do's 

  • πŸ€— Warm Greetings: Initiate a warm greeting with a handshake, a smile, and direct eye contact.
  • ⏰ Punctuality: Be on time for business meetings, demonstrating professionalism and respect.
  • πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’Ό Hierarchical Respect: Acknowledge the hierarchical structure by showing respect to senior colleagues and using formal titles.
  • 🧑 Relationship Building: Take the time to establish personal connections before diving into business discussions.
  • πŸ—£οΈ Small Talk: Engage in casual conversations as a prelude to business matters.

Don'ts

  • πŸ’¨ Rushing Relationships: Avoid rushing the process of building personal connections and trust.
  • πŸ—£οΈ Avoiding Small Talk: Neglecting small talk may hinder the development of relationships in a business context.

Greece πŸ‡¬πŸ‡·

In Greece, personal relationships are highly valued. A warm greeting involving a handshake, a smile, and eye contact sets a positive tone. Be open to changes in plans and schedules, as Greeks prioritize relationships over strict adherence to timelines. Accept invitations to meals graciously, as business discussions often take place in a more casual setting. Patience is essential, and rushed negotiations may be perceived as disrespectful. While relationships are crucial, respect for hierarchy is still valued, so address people using their titles and show deference to senior colleagues.

Do's

  • πŸ€— Warm Greetings: Initiate a warm greeting with a handshake, a smile, and direct eye contact.
  • πŸ’ͺ🏻 Flexibility: Be adaptable to changes in plans and schedules, showcasing a relaxed and flexible approach.
  • 🍴 Dining Etiquette: Accept invitations to meals graciously, engaging in business discussions in a more casual setting.
  • 🧑 Relationship Building: Invest time in building personal connections through socializing and small talk.
  • πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’Ό Hierarchy Respect: Show deference to senior colleagues by addressing them using their titles.

Don'ts

  • πŸ’¨ Rushed Negotiations: Avoid pressuring for quick decisions, as patience is highly valued.
  • πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’Ό Disregarding Hierarchy: Respect for hierarchy is essential; avoid addressing senior colleagues informally.

Portugal πŸ‡΅πŸ‡Ή

In Portugal, formal greetings, such as handshakes and polite exchanges, are common. Use titles and surnames when addressing colleagues until invited to use first names. Maintain a professional demeanor, especially in the early stages of a relationship, as Portuguese business culture values formality. Small gifts are appreciated, but avoid overly extravagant gestures. Similar to Spain, respect for hierarchy is vital, so acknowledge the authority of senior colleagues and address them appropriately. Expect thorough discussions, as Portuguese business culture is deliberative, and avoid pressuring for quick decisions.

Do's

  • 🀝 Formal Greetings: Initiate a formal greeting with a handshake and polite exchange of pleasantries.
  • πŸ‘” Professionalism: Maintain a professional demeanor, especially in the early stages of a relationship.
  • 🎁 Gift Giving: Offer small gifts as gestures of appreciation, avoiding overly extravagant gestures.
  • πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’Ό Hierarchy Respect: Acknowledge the hierarchical structure by addressing senior colleagues formally.
  • πŸ—£οΈ Thorough Discussions: Expect thorough discussions, and avoid pressuring for quick decisions.

Don'ts

  • πŸ™… Overlooking Hierarchy: Disregarding hierarchy may be perceived as disrespectful; show deference to senior colleagues.
  • πŸ’¨ Rushing Decisions: Avoid pressuring for quick resolutions, as Portuguese business culture values careful consideration.

Malta πŸ‡²πŸ‡Ή

In Malta, a high value is placed on politeness and courtesy. Maintain a polite and respectful demeanor in all interactions. Be adaptable to changes in plans, as Maltese professionals appreciate a relaxed and flexible approach. Building personal connections is crucial, so attend social events to network and strengthen relationships. Formality is important, but don't neglect personal relationships; invest time in building connections with colleagues. Take the time to engage in small talk before delving into business discussions, as rushed meetings may be perceived as impolite.

Do's

  • 😊 Politeness: Maintain a polite and respectful demeanor in all interactions.
  • πŸ’ͺ🏻 Flexibility: Be adaptable to changes in plans, showcasing a relaxed and flexible approach.
  • 🌐 Networking: Attend social events to build personal connections and strengthen professional relationships.
  • πŸ‘―β€β™€οΈ Building Connections: Invest time in building personal connections with colleagues.
  • πŸ—£οΈ Small Talk: Engage in small talk before transitioning to business discussions.

Don'ts

  • πŸ™… Ignoring Personal Relationships: Neglecting personal connections may hinder professional relationships.
  • πŸ’¨ Rushing Business Meetings: Avoid rushing into business discussions without engaging in small talk.

Bulgaria πŸ‡§πŸ‡¬

In Bulgaria, formal greetings, such as handshakes and polite exchanges, are customary. Use titles and last names until invited to use first names. Building relationships is crucial, so invest time in socializing and small talk. Dress formally, as maintaining a professional appearance is important in Bulgarian business culture. Similar to other Southern European cultures, respect for hierarchy is crucial, so show deference to senior colleagues. Bulgarians prefer careful consideration before making decisions, so avoid pressuring for quick resolutions.

Do's

  • 🀝 Formal Greetings: Initiate a formal greeting with a handshake and polite exchange of pleasantries.
  • 🧑 Relationship Building: Invest time in socializing and small talk to build personal connections.
  • πŸ‘” Business Attire: Dress formally, maintaining a professional appearance during business meetings.
  • πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’Ό Hierarchy Respect: Show deference to senior colleagues by using titles and last names.
  • πŸ‘πŸ» Thorough Consideration: Be patient and allow for careful consideration before making decisions.

Don'ts

  • πŸ™… Ignoring Hierarchy: Disregarding hierarchy may be perceived as disrespectful; show deference to senior colleagues.
  • πŸ’¨ Rushing Decisions: Avoid pressuring for quick resolutions, as Bulgarians prefer careful consideration.


By respecting the unique cultural nuances and work etiquette of these countries you can pave the way for successful professional relationships and collaborations. Keep in mind that through Yobbers most of the companies will be super international so the workplace will also be a blend of cultures, which can take time getting used to but is such a positive aspect! Cultural sensitivity is the key to building bridges in the diverse landscape of global business and being able to navigate between those cultures will make you an even better professional abroad! Can't wait to experience it yourself? Check out our vacancies!


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