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- Estonians are quite formal and may not come across as quite cold or even friendly to people from more informal cultures. This should not be interpreted so.
- Men should initiate greetings with women and the younger person always greets the older person.
- The most common greeting is "tere" ("hello").
- Once the relationship warms up the communication style becomes a lot less stiff.
- Shake hands with everyone at the meeting.
- Remember it is rude to greet someone while seated.
- Handshakes should be firm and confident.
- Maintain steady eye contact while shaking hands.
- Try and wait for a woman to extend her hand.
- Address businesspeople by their professional title and their surname.
- If someone does not have a professional title, use "Härra" to address a man and "Prova" to address a woman, "Preili" is Miss. All should be followed with the surname.
- Wait until invited before moving to a first name basis.
- Estonians mean what they say and do what they say they will do.
- They expect foreign businesspeople to keep their word.
- Failing to do so can cause irreparable harm to a business relationship.
- They are generally polite and courteous speakers.
- Estonians are somewhat pragmatic and reserved, especially in the early stages of developing a business relationship.
- Estonians are not emotive speakers.
- If you are from a culture where hand gestures are robust, you may wish to moderate them to conform to local practices.
- Soft voices are the norm. If you have a booming voice, you may wish to moderate it when conducting business with Estonians.
- Estonians do not always respond to what has been said, especially if they are uncomfortable with the subject or if they need more time to organize their thoughts.
- Although they are direct communicators, Estonians temper their directness in order to protect the feelings of all concerned.
- They are slow to pay compliments and may become suspicious of compliments offered too readily and without sufficient reason.
- Passive silence is very much part of the communication style.
- Estonians are not fond of conversational overlap and will not think highly of someone who interrupts them while they are speaking.
- Estonians value their good reputations. Therefore, be careful not to criticize or embarrass anyone publicly.