Cultural Differences – Romania

Romanians communicate in great detail. Their statements in meetings and negotiations are often long and complex; their response to questions is just as extensive. However, from the perspective of some foreign business people, often only a small part of the answer seems to actually relate to the original question. At the same time, foreign managers often forget to read between the lines. Romanians have a way of communicating a lot of things without actually saying them out loud. This indirect way of communicating is certainly not easy, but the necessary listening skills can be acquired over time.

Presentations for a Romanian audience should be detailed and based on facts. Presentations that are too short are not seen as trustworthy by Romanians. In such a case your Romanian business partners will generally demonstrate a sceptical attitude, and might wonder what the other side is trying to hide. Their aim is to discover the personal beliefs of their foreign business partners. Without knowing these, it is difficult to get a business deal going in Romania. Small talk about pretty much everything, e.g. at business meals, is thus an essential part of the joint business base.

You will often be confronted with a varying conception of reality. Romanians have a good sense for what the other side wants to hear. Which is exactly what they will tend to say, and therefore their statements can change rapidly depending on the prevailing situation. During initial business talks, potential partners are promised as much as possible; however, in the end, this can often not be implemented. Foreign managers have to understand that not everything their Romanian business partners promise should be taken seriously. At the same time, Romanians love a “think big” approach, and thus big words should not simply be misunderstood as a deception. Shared pipe dreams unite!

Integrating Business Networks

As the largest country in Southern Europe and one of the youngest members of the European Union, Romania is particularly keen to adapt to the customs of international trading. Romanian entrepreneurs are open-minded and liberal towards foreign business partners. Nevertheless, Romanians will mostly do business with their personal business network in mind. Foreign managers, who are doing business with a Romanian company for the first time, should thus always anticipate, that the Romanian side will try to integrate other network partners into a joint project. On the one hand, you might call this favouritism; on the other hand, this is an important part of the Romanian business culture, which is based on a network of contacts. It is important to ensure that you find a balance that is free from corruption, so that both sides can satisfy their ethical principles. An experienced intermediary can provide the foreign side with the necessary support needed for this.

Romanian Negotiation Style

Romanians are tough negotiators who are not afraid of risk. They are very determined to get the most out of negotiations and will do anything to achieve this. Foreign managers are well advised to adamantly defend their positions during lengthy negotiations. They will then experience how their invincible opponents suddenly become extremely cooperative and friendly partners who don’t spare any efforts to make a project a success. You should, however, be careful, not to impose rigid procedures upon your Romanian partners. Most of them will react very sensitively to this and immediately feel insulted. This can quickly lead to the termination of the negotiations.

Once an agreement has been reached, contracts – which, corresponding to the Romanian communication style, will be extremely comprehensive, detailed and thorough will be drafted. It is recommended that you hire an expert for drafting the contract. Despite, or precisely because, of the comprehensiveness of the documents, some loopholes tend to remain especially with regards to important points! It is also common for Romanian business partners to try and change parts of the contract after it has been signed. In situations like this, the foreign side is advised to either stick to their negotiating stance or to go for a strategic compromise in order to ensure good relations and thus the project’s success.

Project Work

Punctuality and urgency are foreign words to Romanians. Most of the time, Romanians therefore don’t know what to do with detailed project and time schedules if these are provided by their foreign project partners. Their key success factors are commitment, creativity and spontaneity. Only regular, good, friendly and particularly personal communication ensures that projects are carried out quickly.

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