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As borders open to business, it’s good to know your etiquette

05.03.2015

Across the EU, international borders continue to open to allow easier business dealings. There are a number of newly formed countries, particularly in the eastern areas of Europe where conducting business may be a new experience which makes it even more crucial to know how to conduct business matters with industry peers.

One country which is now looking to forge working relationships and grow their international presence is Serbia. If you have the opportunity to work with a Serbian company, here are some tips as to their business etiquette.

Initial introductions

The business etiquette when initially meeting business colleagues in Serbia is similar to the majority of Europe in that you shake hands with everyone. The slight difference to remember is that in Serbia it is seen as good manners to shake the hands of women before that of men.

How to dress for a meeting

Serbian business attire is formal and quite conservative. Men wear dark coloured suits as do women. Some women may be seen to be not wearing a suit but will never dress casually or in very loud patterns, it’s not seen as professional.

How to address those at a meeting

A particularly Serbian etiquette rule in a meeting attended by a number of people is to indicate the title of a colleague followed by their surname. First names are only used in private meetings in a business environment and again only after an initial business relationship has been established.

Dates to avoid

Many Serbians take long holidays in July and August so avoid business meetings during these months as much as possible. Taking time off at this point in the year is very traditional and wanting to hold meetings during the summer months is very frowned upon.

Language

The official language of Serbia is Serbian. This is spoken by the vast majority of residents of the country. The only exception to this rule is the use of Torlakian in parts of the south of the country, but Serbian is still the first language of both business and municipal departments. There are a number of regional dialects; six in total, but again, those in corporate surroundings will speak Serbian. English is growing as a spoken language, in particular by younger generations.