Turkish Mentality

Turkey is partly in Europe and partly in Asia. Turks from the European part are oriented to the West in terms of business, but their cultural history is also oriental. While western Turkey is industrialized and urban life is predominant, eastern Turkey is agricultural. They are two completely different concepts of life.

The family is paramount for Turks. Family ties are also used for business. Personal relationships are most important for business. And business is done between people, not between companies. Major political and business decisions in Turkey are made within an inner network that remains opaque.

Turks place a high value on good manners, morals and honor. Successful businessmen act generously, but not boastfully. Restraint is a Turkish virtue.

Business meetings with Turks usually take place in good restaurants, where Turkish business partners treat their foreign business partners. At lunchtime, this takes place in a formal atmosphere; in the evening, it can also be a bit boisterous. Turks rarely invite their business partners to their companies. The entire business initiation process takes place outside the company. Only detailed negotiations take place inside the company.

Turks are punctual and expect the same from their business partners. When meeting, Turks shake hands in greeting, but they squeeze much less than Germans. Once a certain level of trust has been established, Turks also greet each other in business with a kiss on the cheek. Turkish business people like to exchange business cards. They also like to give their business partners several cards to pass around. Turks also hand out business cards at follow-up meetings.

At the beginning of the conversation, people calmly inquire about the well-being of each participant in turn. Then there is extensive small talk before the highest-ranking Turkish interlocutor eventually switches to business. It applies that the less business that is discussed the higher the Turkish interlocutor is in the firm hierarchy. Business appointments are quite formal and cordial at the same time. Many Turkish business people speak English, so that a conversation is generally possible. Turkish business people often call in interpreters.

Take your time for business conversations. Time pressure is not good for doing business with Turks. Take time to build personal business relationships. However, in conversation, Turks sometimes make phone calls on a completely different mission or interrupt meetings to discuss something with other people. Showing that you are busy is important. Do not show any criticism of it. Turks also express criticism at most very discreetly between the lines, so that foreign conversation partners hardly notice it. A good sense of this is helpful when dealing with Turkish business partners.

Turks conduct their business with a distinct merchant’s understanding. It is important to know that they strive for the best deal for themselves rather than trying to reach a balanced consensus. In order to have negotiating leverage, cost estimates should be provided with negotiating leverage for each negotiating partner. The buyer wants to negotiate successfully, the financial manager needs his negotiation success and the boss wants to renegotiate again. Turkish business people want to renegotiate with every follow-up deal. As a prerequisite to being prepared for negotiation processes, you should do a lot of research in advance.

Turkey is dominated by medium-sized companies. Decisions are made by the patriarch. Employees are traditionally neither used to making decisions nor to preparing them. Teamwork has not yet arrived in Turkey, even though younger managers are now introducing a change. Turkish bosses make their decisions spontaneously and “by instinct,” often without any special consideration of details and consequences. With the best of intentions, Turks often promise more than they can deliver. However, something unexpected often comes up, and projects take longer or cannot be implemented as planned. Turks then like to point out opportunities and prospects.

Islam hardly plays a role in business. During Ramadan, work in Turkey is normal; only the Bayram festival at the end of Ramadan is celebrated.

Turkish company documents, by the way, contain much more colorful visual material, especially photos of the company owners and images of reference projects, than German company documents, which tend to be dominated by figures, tables and infographics. When creating documents for Turkish business partners, it is best to enrich them with a series of images and provide an overview in Turkish. Turkish presentations are also more colorful than German ones. Turks like multimedia shows.

By the way, many Turkish names are used for both women and men, such as Adalet, Askin, Burcin, Caglar, Deniz, Deryag, Evren, Ferhan, Fikret, Hikmet, Hidayet, Ilhan, Kamuran, Özgür, Sezer, Ufuk and Ugur. This makes it impossible to distinguish them on paper. It is a good idea to do some research before you send a letter.

Look also to the British mentality, the Swiss mentality, the Austrian mentality, the Spanish mentality, the Dutch mentality, the Scandinavian mentality, the French 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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