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TJC Global: Doing Business in Lithuania

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About Lithuania 

Lithuania is relatively new EU country with good road connections to Germany and Russia. The geographical center of Europe lies not far from Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. Vilnius is located in a picturesque valley at the confluence of the river Neris and the river Vilnia, after which the capital is named. It was founded in 1323 when the Grand Duke Gediminas built a castle on the top of the hill. The castle was destroyed in the past and only one tower is left nowadays. Despite this, it symbolizes the whole castle and the city visitors can enjoy a fantastic view of the city from the top of the tower.

In the 17th-18th centuries Vilnius experienced a whole series of disasters, such as battles with Russia and Sweden, fires, plagues and sieges. Later, the capital was occupied by Germans and was passed to Polish hand. Thus, during the First World War the provisional capital of Lithuania was instead Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city.

Lithuania has now become a perfect location for foreign investors and businessmen due to its proximity to big markets and location, transport and attractive standard of living.

 

 

 

 

Language

The Lithuanian language belongs to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European group of languages. Although Lithuanian is the official language, Russian, English and German are widely used in Lithuania. In case of language barriers, it is advisable to arrange an interpreter prior to a business meeting. If you learn to say a few common phrases, you will make a very good impression on your Lithuanian business partners. 

English 

Lithuanian

Hello

Sveiki

Good morning

Labas rytas

Good afternoon

Laba diena

Good evening

Labas vakaras

Good-bye

Viso gero

Please

Prašom

Thank you

Ačiū

Yes/No

 Taip/ ne

Excuse me

Atsiprašau

 

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Business Etiquette

Initial contact

Meetings are arranged in advance and confirmed by a letter, e-mail or fax. Try to avoid meetings on Lithuanian Bank- and National Holidays. Lithuanians are punctual, so punctuality is expected from the visitors, although it is OK to be 5 – 10 min late. Agreements are discussed in detail and before signing, read them carefully.

 

Greetings

Handshaking is customary before and after a meeting. Each person introduces himself/herself telling their full name and title, if they have one. In Lithuania business people call each other by their last names and their title, unless they agree otherwise. It is important to respect older people and those who have a better position in a society.

 

Business cards

There is a tradition of exchanging business cards, so make sure that you have enough business cards which clearly indicate your position in the company.

 

Dress Code

A formal and conservative sense of dress is very important in Lithuania. Businessmen usually wear suits, white or pastel colour shirts and a tie of a similar tone, whereas women wear elegant dresses or suits.

 

Body language

During negotiations Lithuanians try to avoid direct answers and show expressiveness, fellowship and honesty. Eye contact is considered very important. The recommended distance between business-persons is an outstretched arm. It does not matter whether negotiators sit or stand. In Lithuania, it is rude to keep your hands in your pockets and chew gum in a public place.

 

Food and Drink  

Although Lithuanians do not discuss business issues during lunch or dinner, they tend to do it during breakfast. Lithuanians are a very hospitable and friendly people. In order to show courtesy to them you should accept the offer to try any dish, such as the traditional cepelinai and vedarai. If you are invited for dinner at a private home, you should bring a bottle of wine, cognac or a box of chocolates.

 

Gifts

Acceptable gifts for business meetings are pens, calendars or posters with your company logo. An even number of flowers (usually roses) may be given to women.

 

Beliefs and superstitions

Do not shake hands over a threshold – it is considered bad luck.

Do not give yellow flowers, as they signify separation or splitting.

If you are single, do not sit at the sharp corner of a table when eating a meal as this signifies that you will stay single forever.

Police officers are called ‘cucumbers’ as they wear green uniforms.

 

Attractions

There are a number of famous places that are worth visiting while you are in Lithuania. The main attractions in Vilnius are the University buildings with inner courtyards and arcades, which is amongst the oldest universities in Central Europe. The Gothic St. Anne’s Church that Napoleon intended to take on his palm to Paris, the Gate of Dawn with its famous icon of the Virgin Mary (18th century), the Cathedral build in the Classical style, St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Europe Park and Belmontas Park, located near Vilnius.

 

 

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