What to Wear?

Business dress is conservative and follows most European conventions. Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits with white shirts. Women should wear either business suits or conservative dresses, complimented with elegant accessories. 

Meeting and Greeting

Handshakes are the norm in Austria when entering a meeting.  It is important that you shake hands with all attendees and that your handshake is firm and confident and that eye contact is maintained.

Austrians adhere to a fairly formal culture and it is unlikely that body contact will progress beyond the handshake (e.g. pat on the back etc.) unless you are family or close friends.

When doing business in Austria you should use honorific titles where necessary.  After the initial meeting, in which an individual will be introduced with their honorific title and surname, it the surname can be dropped and the honorific title only used.
If someone does not have an honorific title, then you should use 'Herr' to address a man and 'Frau' to address a woman with their surname.

You should wait for your Austrian hosts to determine when it's appropriate to move to the use of first names.

Relationships & Communication

First impressions are important and you will be judged on your clothing and demeanour. Although Austrians prefer third-party introductions, they do not need a personal relationship in order to do business.They will be interested in any advanced university degrees you might have as well as the amount of time your company has been in business.

Austrians show deference to people in authority, so it is imperative that they understand your level relative to their own. t is imperative that you exercise good manners in all your business interactions. There is little joking or small talk in the office as they are serious and focused on accomplishing business objectives/goals.

Communication is formal and follows strict rules of protocol. Always use the formal word for you 'sie' unless invited to use the informal 'du'. Address people by their academic title and surname. You may be referred to simply by your surname. This is not a culture that uses first names except with family and close friends.

Austrians are suspicious of hyperbole, promises that sound too good to be true, or displays of emotion. In many situations, Austrians will be direct to the point of bluntness. This is not an attempt to be rude, it is simply indicative of their desire to move the discussion along. Expect a great deal of written communication, both to back up decisions and to maintain a record of discussions and outcomes.

Meetings and Negotiation

Austrians place great emphasis on supporting data and as such, if presenting an idea or proposal during a meeting, it is recommended that you back your presentation up with graphs or other supporting data which clearly demonstrates the points you are making.
You will find that your hosts are meticulous about detail and it is important therefore that the data is robust and does not lay grounds for challenge.  You are also advised to have any materials translated into both English and German.


Austria - Etiquette & Culture - overview of cultural values and tips of social& business etiquette

Executive Planet - articles on business protocol