Belgians appreciate netiquette, and always behave politely and discreetly. We’ve put together some tips for you in our Business Etiquette Belgium in case you ever have business dealings with Belgians.
In Belgium, you shake hands to greet people. The handshake is gentle, avoid shaking too firmly. Address your contact in the French-speaking regions with Monsieur or Madame and in the Dutch-speaking regions with Meneer or Mevrouw. Belgians gladly offer first names quickly, and conversations are kept pretty casual overall.
Belgians place importance on listening attentively and maintaining eye contact. Restrain yourself with your gestures: Belgians are considered sophisticated and perceive blowing your nose in public or yawning as very impolite. Always listen to your discussion partner attentively so that he doesn’t get the impression you’re bored.
Topics of conversation
Smalltalk is certainly appropriate to loosen up the conversation. Taboo topics include the conflict between Flemings and Walloons as well as World War II. You should also avoid negative statements regarding politics and country. Score with knowledge about the country, food and football.
How to dress properly
Generally speaking, Belgians dress rather casual, but a jeans-and-sportscoat combo is a must-have for men. For official events, men should wear a dark suit. Women focus on fashion from the latest collections. Look for clean clothing that doesn’t look like it’s from the last millennium.
Business meals are celebrated
Belgians are gourmets. They enjoy celebrating their food – especially business meals. They take time for their food and like drinking wine with it. Don’t turn down the wine directly. That’s considered impolite. When you’re invited to a business dinner, really enjoy your food and don’t gobble it up. Also mind your table manners.
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