THE AUSTRIAN CULTURAL BACKGROUND
Austrians are generally conservative people. They are prudent and moderate in their behaviour. Regimentation’ and ‘compartmentalization’ are a useful ways of describing how they organise their lives. They extend social invitations in advance of the event, and the more formal the occasion the greater the time between the invitation and the event itself, so that they can be certain that their guests do not have a prior engagement.
Gift Giving Etiquette
In general, Austrians exchange gifts with family and close friends at Christmas (generally Christmas Eve) and birthdays.
Children receive gifts on December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas
If invited to dinner at an Austrian’s house, bring a small gift of consumables such as chocolates.
If giving flowers, always give an odd number as except for 12, even numbers mean bad luck.
Do not give red carnations, lilies, or chrysanthemums.
Gifts should be nicely wrapped.
Gifts are usually opened when received.
If you are invited to an Austrian’s house:
Arrive on time. Punctuality is a sign of respect.
Dress conservatively and elegantly.
In some houses you may be asked to remove your shoes, although the custom is not as prevalent as it once was.
Business Meeting Etiquette
Appointments are necessary and should be made 3 to 4 weeks in advance when meeting with private companies.
Do not try to schedule meetings in August, the two weeks surrounding Christmas, or the week before Easter.
Punctuality is taken extremely seriously. If you expect to be delayed, telephone immediately and offer an explanation.
It is extremely rude to cancel a meeting at the last minute and it could ruin your business relationship.
Meetings are formal.
Presentations should be accurate and precise.
Have back-up material and be prepared to defend everything: Austrians are meticulous about details.
Meetings adhere to strict agendas, including starting and ending times. If you have an agenda, it will be followed.
Follow-up with a letter outlining what was agreed, what the next steps are, and who is the responsible party.