The Turks hold their meetings either in their offices or at business lunches and dinners, which mostly take place in restaurants. A Besides doing business, ‘working on the relationship’ is also an important issue in this culture.
During a first meeting, it is essential to invest in building the relationship and to stay devoted to it. The Turks prefer personal contact; working only by e-mail and telephone is unacceptable. This means paying many visits, or even having a local office, to establish a good relationship. It is important that you show effort.
To impress the Turks it is good to have some knowledge about their language, values, religion and habits. The Islam still influences the lives of the Turks every day, so it is important to learn more about this religion. Here are some pointers to give you an impression of what their values are like:
- The Turks drink alcohol and smoke, but eating pork is very unusual
- Status is very important; show respect to older people
- Bargaining is part of the culture and very normal.
Make sure you will make it on time to meetings: the Turks find it essential to be punctual. Before the meeting, you should start by shaking hands, and out of respect you might want to begin with the most senior. Another important aspect is to start with small talk, this way you show that you are not only interested in the business deal, but you are also willing to invest your time and effort in the relationship.
Turks come from a culture where negotiation is in their culture for centuries. Please be aware that negotiations cannot take place before the relationship and trust is established between the parties. Patience is essential and your Turkish counterpart will start on an extreme level of negotiation to test your level of response with an extremely high price. Concessions will be made from each side; this is just a part of the game. Each time you do this reminds your counterpart that you are willing to do this even though it sounds unreasonable because you value your relationship with them.
In Turkey there is a lot of bureaucracy. So before a contract or an agreement is signed it can take a long time. The Turks don’t prefer this but the system is set up like that. The Turkish law is build with influence of French, Swiss and Italian Law.
Turks tend to be good listeners, but the listening style includes easier interruptions. However interrupting is a way of showing interest in what is being said from that perspective, as in turkey this is a way of showing genuine interest in someone.
Turks are slow in decision taking and will first consult with their team. Teams are often considered as a kind of family almost. Honour and loyalty are very important factors for them, so be careful with making comments about third parties.
The Turks love to debate and can be very passionate in a conversation. However they are indirect communicators so they will never be too direct. You have to learn to read between the lines. They are open to new ideas, but will stay always rather sceptical but not unreasonable.