Things to Do & Things Not to Do
Visitors’ Behaviour that Czechs Find Rude
- Wearing shoes inside the home. Slippers in a Czech home are a must!
- Sporting a big backpack. The best place for your bag on public transport? Off your back.
- Failing to let passengers exit. Always step outside to let other passengers out.
- Not adhering to seat hierarchy. Especially on public transport, give up your seat for the elderly and pregnant.
- Taking up sidewalk space. Do not walk slowly, side by side, down a narrow street.
- Talking loudly. When in doubt, don’t shout!
- Calling Czechia ‘Eastern Europe’ or ‘Czechoslovakia’. The mental Iron Curtain remains a struggle.
- Forgetting to say, “Enjoy your meal”. Or eating before everyone has their food.
- Disregarding cutlery customs. Switching hands after cutting meat are considered barbaric.
- Not learning the language… Don’t expect everyone to speak English.
- Criticizing the country. Czechs may openly criticize themselves, but don’t join in!
- Forgetting our “guest” status. As outsiders, the onus is on ex-pats to adapt.
- Say goodbye to everyone when you leave a restaurant.
Things Not To Do
• In any social or business scenario, don’t presume that your culture is superior! Lots of people make this regrettable (although usually unwitting) error. Do not attempt to indoctrinate your Czech business associates or Czech friends with your business philosophy or cultural heritage. Rather, watch and practice modesty, but without being too withdrawn or eager to please.
Pointing with the index finger is considered rude.
In Someone’s House
• Do not speak too much about politics and business. Social circumstances are restricted to social subjects, and there’s quite a pronounced division between play and work in the Czech Rep.
• Don’t make a mess. Czech houses are usually quite small and are kept tidy, so don’t spill any crumbs or lean against walls because the paint that most homes use will leave a residue of powder film on your clothing.
In a Restaurant or Pub
• Do not be too choosy. Special requests aren’t common so do not, for instance, attempt to order a dish’s vegetarian version.
Things To Do
• Be humble. Czech’s value humility and modesty in people. Aggression, ostentation and arrogance are looked down on. Be aware of and note patterns of behaviour and attempt to emulate them as closely as you can.
• Study as much of the Czech culture and language as you can. From a Czech person’s perspective, your position is bolstered significantly if you display some interest in their culture.
• Attempt to understand Czech dry humour and sarcasm. Czechs can make jokes out of almost any circumstance, which can sometimes come across as a bit harsh. Don’t be too sensitive, and do not over-react to any light-hearted banter.
• Don’t forget the name-days and birthdays of any Czech colleagues you have. These are both deemed to be important. Also, be familiar with the (semi) formalities that Czech people use. These two events mean you have to buy them a card or a token gift. At the very least, you should get them a drink along with a handshake and an expression of good wishes for their future luck, happiness and health.
In Commercial or Business Dealings
• Make sure you have business cards ready. Your Czech partners will give you a card, so return the favour.
• Be aware of sustaining a polite manner in business situations. Begin with a greeting and leave with a farewell. Everyone practises this custom.
At Someone’s House
• Don’t forget to take your shoes off before going in and put on the slippers you’ll probably be given (this could mean that you have to remember to wear socks that don’t have holes in them!).
• You can take with you some photographs of your family or home. This is a normal social convention, and, as your host will wish to show off his or her photos, it is good to reciprocate.
When Visiting A Concert Hall Or Theatre
• Attire yourself correctly. This doesn’t have to mean a coat and a tie (although lots of people do dress like this), but trainers and jeans are certainly frowned on and might even provoke an abrupt remark.
In Restaurants or Pubs
• Find yourself somewhere to sit unless you are greeted by someone when you enter (only usually happens in the upmarket venues).
• When you pay, don’t forget to instruct the waiter (when they give you the bill) on how much you want to add on for their tip. Don’t put tips on your table.