Turkish Business Negotiations
Turkish Business Guide
Structure and hierarchy in Turkish companies
- The Turkish business environment exhibits much respect for rank, education and authority. Generally speaking, senior members of a Turkish company are often only met once trust has been established by those below them.
- Decisions are always made by the most senior business people. However, due to the strong sense of collectivism that underlines Turkish business culture, the decision maker will often consider the group involved in that decision.
- As a sign of respect and courtesy for Turkish culture, you should always address the eldest or most senior person in the room first. In Turkey, age is a sign of wisdom and consequently demands respect in all aspect of society.
Business practices in Turkey
- In Turkish business practice, it is respectful to address a Turkish professional by his or her occupational title alone, should they have one, e.g., ‘Doctor’ or ‘Lawyer’. However, Turks are generally informal with names and when meeting someone for the first time they tend to address people by ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ followed by their first name.
- The exchange of business cards is common practice. Although there is no formal exchange ritual, you are advised to present your card with both hands and, if possible, have one side of your card translated into Turkish. Offer your business card to everyone you meet, especially to those with whom you wish to establish a business relationship.
- At the start of any business meeting or social gathering, it is customary to greet your Turkish counterparts with a handshake; failure to do so may be considered rude. Shake hands firmly with everyone present using your right hand. Men should wait for women to extend their hand first.
- Engaging in small talk before beginning business discussions is important for establishing rapport in Turkey. It is a good idea to get to know your Turkish counterpart on a personal level, as business relationships are built on trust and mutual friendship and are a prerequisite for doing business. Turks prefer to do business with those they know and respect; therefore time spent establishing a personal relationship will be beneficial to future business dealings.
Turkish Business Etiquette
- DO maintain eye contact with your Turkish counterpart whilst speaking, as Turks take this as a sign of sincerity.
- DO dress conservatively. You will be expected to wear a suit and tie. Women should avoid short skirts, low-cut blouses or shorts.
- DO ensure that you greet each of your Turkish counterparts individually. The most common greeting is ‘Merhaba’ but ‘Selaminaleyküm’, a greeting with a more religious connotation can also be used.
- DON’T back away if your Turkish colleagues stand close to you during conversation. Turks do not require as much personal space as many other cultures and this may be construed as unfriendly.
- DON’T use deadlines or high pressure tactics during business negotiations with your Turkish colleagues as they will be counterproductive. Be patient during negotiations as decision making can be slow.
- DON’T offer gifs that are too lavish or personal and be sure to check that your Turkish counterparts drink before giving alcohol. The exchanging of gifts is not a predominant feature of Turkish business culture. However, if a gift is given it will be gratefully accepted.