Fleming Belgians will often prefer to answer visitors in English rather than French, even if the visitor’s French is good. It is customary to bring flowers or a small present for the hostess, especially if invited for a meal.
Belgians accept a degree of familiarity once relationships have been established. This does not however extend to the use of the more intimate second person unless specifically proposed by the person concerned. In meetings it will normally not be advisable in any case, as familiarity with just one representative of the other side may be felt inappropriate by his or her colleagues.
In practice, Belgians are less respectful of the rules than other nationalities. Provincial people, both the Flemings when speaking French, and the Valons, have no inhibitions about addressing strangers with the familiar you ("tu"). Likewise they will use the formal "uw " and "vous" as a sign of respect when addressing senior family members and colleagues.
It is good practice in Belgium to make an appointment at least a few days in advance.
If you later have a conflict of priorities, explain the situation to your Belgian partner and he or she will certainly understand and find an alternative arrangement.
The most suitable time for a business meeting is probably about 10 a.m. If the proceedings are positive, it may lead to a lunch, when the agenda may range from a continuation of the business discussion to purely social affairs. This will help build the sense of mutual trust that is important to Belgians.
Belgians are pragmatic and relatively non-hierarchical people. Many Belgian managers can be approached direct for an appointment. Only occasionally you will deal with a secretary or personal assistant.
There may be no formal agenda for the meeting as many Belgians prefer to ’feel their way’ and leave themselves with the flexibility to work around to a sensible compromise.
It may be appropriate to start a business meeting with not too long informal conversation.
Punctuality is generally appreciated in Belgium and meetings will not normally be allowed to run on too long. In the case of social events, plan to arrive 5-10 minutes after the time indicated in the invitation.
Negotiations and decisions are usually open and flexible. Your Belgian counterparts will favor a win/win approach.