The specifics of doing business in the Baltic States. Peculiarities of communication

The most obvious difference between the Baltic states is language. Lithuanian and Latvian are the two surviving languages of the Baltic group. Estonian belongs to an entirely different Finno-Ugric language group and is similar to Finnish.

Communication of Estonians

Estonia is the smallest of the Baltic states. About 70% are Estonians whose native language is Estonian. About 30% of the population is of Russian origin. 

Many Estonians are fluent in Russian, Finnish and English, and some speak German and Swedish well. They like to be called Scandinavians. At the first meeting, a polite greeting is a stony look. There is a clear line between personal and professional relationships. Estonian communication style is similar to Finnish. Silence is perfectly acceptable if there is nothing to say. It is not common to interrupt others or to finish their ideas at the end of a sentence. People speak directly, without exaggeration or understatement, and use facts and figures whenever possible. Humor is not condemned, but rarely occurs in a business context. 

Written protocols, instructions and detailed plans with appropriate signatures are the basis for action. With such instructions and approvals, execution is usually flawless. Like Finns, Estonians love cell phones and the Internet. Estonia is the leading EU country in terms of the number of Internet connections per capita.

Communication of Latvians

Most Latvians speak Russian, albeit reluctantly, and use English or German as a third language. Young people do not learn Russian, preferring English as their first foreign language.

The letter "s" is added to a man's first and last name, and the letter "a" is added to a woman's last name. Our students noticed this when they read the documents for applying for a visa or residence permit in Latvia.

Although Latvians are polite, they are usually careful about what they say, especially at first meetings. When communicating with people they know well and in an informal setting, frankness and directness in speech are common. Humor is rarely used in a business context; it is intended only for those who know each other well. It is a sharp, ironic sense of humor, such as the Danes have, and it is expressed in jokes and stories. Puns, sarcasm and other forms of verbal humor are unacceptable.

Communication of Lithuanians

Usually, in the early stages of dating, politeness and courtesy get in the way of open conversation. Saying "no" is especially difficult. When the relationship becomes a closer acquaintance, people speak more directly, especially to other Lithuanians.

Among the Baltic peoples, Lithuanians are considered the most extroverted. However, they are inherently less sociable than Westerners, to whom they can appear sullen or shy. A common expression for enthusiastic approval is the word "not bad." Outsiders confronted with a veil of indifference must persist until absolutely convinced that this is the case. Humor is used moderately in business situations when personal relationships are relaxed enough.

In general, studying abroad, for example at universities in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, is a great way to improve your communication skills and expand your social circle. It is so interesting to meet new people and study their cultural characteristics! 

For international students, study in the Baltic States is currently available in English, and some Lithuanian universities offer programs in Russian. You can learn more about the programs and the language of instruction during a free consultation with our specialists. Fill out the form for a free consultation with the manager of the admission department.