Meeting / Hanging Out

by Female Abroad

If you are heading to the Czech you are going to meet people and the last thing you want to do is to offend them. After traveling there and spending time with some soon to be far distant family, it was very helpful in learning what is the proper way to handle yourself while meeting or hanging out with the locals.

Upon first arriving in the Czech I thought that people were rude but then I found out that as part of their culture, they are just more reserved and distant to strangers. Don't always go off of your first impression! Also don't ask "How are you" if you don't know the person. It's seen as being too personal.

With Czech being considered the second most difficult language to learn, just knowing a few works "hi", "bye", "thanks" for example will open a more friendly conversation from the locals. Usually if they know you are a foreigner then they will be more relaxed to your attempt and not expect perfect Czech.

When you are first meeting someone, shake their hand with direct eye contact, and give the appropriate greeting for that time of day (ex. "good afternoon?). Also don't use the person's first name unless they provide it, if you do so without their consent it may embarrass or offend them.

Since we were in town for a wedding I picked up that normally a bride will address their future in-laws in a formal manner until after the wedding and then this formal manner was dropped. We also learned that if someone has an academic title (ex. doctor) you would make sure to address them as Professor xxxxxxx and not just by their name - same is true in the written word.

As Canadians we are told that if you show up for a meeting on time, you are late. Well it's a little different here. We had appointments with iPilot and at Cowboys but they were surprised when we showed up 5 minutes early (they weren't quite ready yet either). we later learned that this is a major faux-pas as it makes them seem that they are not prepared when in actuality they had everything planned for the exact time.

If you are visiting someone's house arrive on time, then you should remove your shoes (some homes have "guest slippers") and offer a bottle of wine / brandy, box of good quality chocolate, or flowers as a thank you gift. When it comes to flowers, be cautious - give an odd number (but not 13), don't give Calla lilies, and sometimes flowers are seen as a romantic gesture if the giver/receiver is over 35. Don't start eating until the hostess does and remain standing until you are invited to sit down. Also make sure to compliment the chef and expect to have a second plate (but refuse it until the hostess insists). As a rule, don't speak about business. If you are done eating, lay your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate.