Just like in any other country, you may encounter some cultural differences while trying to establish and develop your business in Lithuania. On your way to success you will have to empathize with the existing conditions and culture — the way business partners and clients perceive and behave in business dealings — as well as to realize that in many cases you will have to behave differently than you are used to.
What are key features of a Lithuanian businessman?
Lithuanian Free Market Institute distinguishes 5 most prominent features of a Lithuanian businessman:
- Hard working,
- Risk taking,
- Future oriented,
- Providing and giving,
One of the most distinctive features of Lithuanian entrepreneurs in Europe is education and proficiency in languages. Therefore, you should not worry about competence of your business partners or language barrier.
Lithuania promotes equal rights for women and men in terms of employment and work and aims to achieve balanced participation of women and men in decision making and top management positions. Therefore, you will meet women in high positions during your business dealings.
Several business communication features:
- Lithuanian businessmen are quite punctual and expect the same from others.
- Planning is usually quite slow and detailed, however, projects are implemented promptly and smoothly.
- Nevertheless, Lithuanian entrepreneurs may also be spontaneous and are able to make decisions quickly.
- Strict deadlines are observed. However, as noted by foreigners, “sometimes they fail by taking on so many orders that they are not able to deliver on time.” It is joked that only the loudest clients’ orders are delivered on time in Lithuania.
- Lithuanian businessmen are more likely to emphasize their flaws and things they could do better rather than talking about their achievements. They tend to underestimate their own work.
- Lithuanians usually answer the phone with “Alio” or “Klausau” (hello) even in business settings. When communicating with foreign partners, Lithuanians follow their example, and start a conversation on the phone by telling their names and company name.
- Calling after working hours is considered a sign of disrespect.
Typical business meeting:
- Business meetings are planned in advance, and confirmed the day before via e-mail or a telephone call.
- Handshake is a proper way for greeting and saying goodbye. Direct eye contact is crucial. Personal space is very important — do not stand too close while communicating. Touches are not acceptable.
- Lithuanians usually act composed in business settings. Excessive hand gestures and relaxation are considered a sing of disrespect and untrustworthiness.
- One of the worst behaviour traits is interrupting someone while they are speaking. Courtesy and good manners are highly valued and cherished.
- Formal dress code prevails. Dark colours in winter and autumn, bright colours during other seasons of the year.
Lithuanians as employees
Lithuanians are described as excellent employees and reliable team members. According to foreign employers, Lithuanians not only tend to wait for the instructions from their managers, but also actively propose various solutions themselves. They are described as having realistic approach to work, being logical thinkers and willing to change. Lithuanian employees may sometimes be described as slow, but they are rather more responsible than their spontaneous colleagues.
Lithuanians as clients
Lithuanian consumers are not ashamed of their rational solutions and hunting for good deals. Lithuanians are not loyal and quite demanding clients as they understand value of their money. They also like novelties.
Most of the buyers tend to purchase only reliable and tested goods for their homes. The other strong group of buyers: people willing to try innovations and to experiment, fond of technologies and promoting a healthy lifestyle (based on “Spinter tyrimai” performed survey).
Price is still one of the most important criteria for many Lithuanians. Businessmen have to scratch their heads really hard to offer high quality goods for a low price.
Lithuanians are interested in healthy nutrition options; also are very demanding on the quality of freshness of food products. They are big patriots in terms of food products: Lithuanian products are valued and considered a guarantee of quality. Currently the trends of healthy lifestyle are increasingly shaping consumer purchasing habits.
Lithuanian consumers are increasingly buying online. Purchases are made both from traditional computers and mobile phones. Therefore, it is important for an e-commerce shop to work equally well on all devices. Lithuanians are also scouring the Internet for good deals. They make purchases only after checking prices on several e-shops. Therefore, businessmen must always keep looking for ways to make good use of marketing to propose an offer that his customers’ simply could not resist.
Visual appearance of goods is very important. Therefore, your success highly depends on quality of product photos.
A typical Lithuanian
Lithuanians usually describe themselves as being modest, silent, hardworking and faithful individuals. According to the results of a study of national archetypes of Lithuanians, they are kind-hearted, composed, caring, long suffering, down-to-earth, ordinary, and have a special relationship with nature. Foreigners are surprised that most of Lithuanian families own homesteads or small land plots near the city where they can spend weekends or summer holidays.
Foreigners usually see Lithuanian women, especially the older generation, as quite compliant and sometimes even too obedient to their husbands. Modest attitude of Lithuanian women is usually misinterpreted as oppression. However, most of Lithuanian women are well educated and often have a higher education than men.
Lithuanians are going for the image of a hardworking nation. Based on sociological surveys, Lithuanians mostly seek to teach their kids to be diligent in their work. However, they are usually quite modest about their achievements.
Lithuanians are also persistent and flexible. They demonstrate stability, persistence and self-esteem. Lithuanians are also notable for courage. They always guarded and tried to preserve their statehood and identity.
Lithuanians are usually described as loyal friends. They can clearly define a line between friends and acquaintances.
Melancholy and passive mood may also be regarded as a national trait. Many on the streets may seem sad and cold, especially the older generation. They also rarely smile and communicate with strangers. In her book “Culture smart: Lithuania” Lara Belonogoff says that Lithuanians are characterised by natural moderations that may often be confused with harshness and unfriendliness. However, this first impression changes with a closer acquaintance: Lithuanians turn out to be very cordial, helpful and frank people.
Most Lithuanians belong to the Roman Catholic Church, but other religious communities also prevail (Orthodox, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim, etc.).
Most people consider themselves religious, but rarely go to church and are more likely to adhere to secular values. Still, religious traditions remain important in lives of Lithuanians, as religious ceremonies for marriages, christening and funerals are held in almost every family.
Lithuanians have always been tolerant of various cultures and beliefs. Unfortunately, tolerance to foreigners has decreased recently. Foreign nationals coming to live to Lithuania notice that Lithuanians are reluctant to show their hospitality and invite foreigners to their homes. Therefore, people coming from other countries may feel strange and unwelcome. Nevertheless, other cultures are respected, and Lithuanians show interest in them.
Lithuania can be described as a region of 3 languages. Apart from Lithuanian, the older generation speaks Russian, and young people has a good command of English. A lot of people speak German, Polish, French or any of Scandinavian languages.