Austrian Mentality

Austrians are rather conservative people. They are very nice people who are extremely respectful to each other and to foreigners. However, for all their politeness, Austrians do not like to be seen behind the facade. However, they do not necessarily express what they really feel and mean. They like to express themselves in the passive voice in order to avoid having to address someone directly. Even formulations such as “That won’t do.” do not contain an actor and therefore do not attack anyone.

Much is etiquette. Austrians like to paint the outside world in a positive light. They love the theatrical. Part of this, especially in Vienna, is an elitist bearing, a convoluted language and a dress code that is stricter than in many other countries. Austrians like to stand out from the crowd. According to a story by Markus Lust, visitors to the Vienna Opera Ball in Vienna’s First District wear a white bow tie with their tuxedos to distinguish themselves from the waiters, who wear tuxedos with black bow ties.

The reason for this theatrical posturing may lie in Austrian history. Austria was once a great Habsburg Empire with a population of 80 million, of which a remnant remains with only 8 million inhabitants. Only the pageantry in the metropolis of Vienna bears witness to this past power.

The Austrian education system is excellent and the level of education of Austrians is very high. In organizations, you generally encounter a high level of competence among employees.

Austrians still attach great importance to cultivated manners. In business, they remain professionally aloof, which is also reflected in restrained gestures. They shake hands in greeting, although gentlemen should wait until the lady offers them her hand.

Meetings with Austrians are strictly formal. Austrians are accustomed to following an agenda in a disciplined manner that is geared to concrete topics. Verifiable facts are important to Austrians.

Hierarchies are very important in Austria. Decisions are usually made by a few people at the top of organizations; often only one person makes decisions. This small group of people is difficult to reach in Austria and is “ensnared” by many influencers. When communicating with Austrian business partners, it is important to address the right person right away. This requires careful preparatory work. The best way to gain access to decision-makers is through Austrians. Therefore, especially for business in Austria, it makes sense to work with Austrian representatives who know the culture and language rules well.

Decision-making processes take a lot of time with Austrians. The more important the decision, the longer the decision-making process will drag on. This is because Austrians are very political. They think very carefully about what they say to whom and in what form, and how they prepare decisions politically. That’s why business with Austrians often develops very slowly.

Look also to the British mentality, the Swiss mentality, the Spanish mentality, the Dutch mentality, the Scandinavian mentality, the French mentality, the Turkish mentality, the US-American mentality, the Italian mentality, the Latin American mentality, the Indian mentality, the Chinese mentality, the Japanese mentality, the Russian mentality, and the Arab mentality.


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