Czech Work Culture
The Czech people always appreciate when a foreigner makes an attempt communicate in the Czech language. However, the Czech people, as well as their language, tend to be very formal with strangers.
The plural pronoun “Vy” serves also as a polite means of addressing someone that you do not know (even in a bar, or a shop) and showing respect to someone you do not have a personal relationship with. Therefore you can often hear people of the same age or even at a very young age using the formal plural when speaking.
Many of the people in management positions and in the international companies in the Czech Republic are multilingual. Most speak English, Russian and German. In general, people in their fifties speak some German, Russian and English whereas the new generation prefers English; although German, French, Russian and Spanish are also quite popular.
Maintaining the eye contact is an important part of communicating your intentions in a business meeting; it gives away your level of interest in the discussion and that you are (not) an attentive listener. Avoiding the eye contact could be interpreted as a lack of interest or bad intentions. Never forget to maintain the eye contact when making a toast (while saying: “Na zdraví!“).
The non-verbal communication reflects the reserved social attitude. “Speaking with hands” is rather remote to the Czech speakers.
What is better to be avoided during the conversation at work? For sure, asking questions about the intimate personal subjects, such as age, health, housing, or finances. On the other hand, the topics as politics and economy usually recommended to stay away of are no big taboo in the Czech conversations. However, you‘d better get ready for lots of irony and sarcastic remarks before bringing them up – that‘s the typical way the Czech people criticize or express disagreement with something.