Relationships & Communication
- Tunisians prefer doing business with people whom they know and respect. Therefore relationship building, before conducting any business is very important.
- Being gracious hosts is something that Tunisians pride themselves on.
- The French influence is still very evident, so you can expect both courtesy and a degree of formality. Quite often business is discussed in cafés and restaurants.
- Appearance is very important, and you will be judged on it, so dress appropriately.
- If you have an advanced university degree from a prestigious university or have achieved special recognition in your business field, weave this information into your conversation since credentials impress Tunisians.
Business Meeting Etiquette
- Appointments are necessary and should be made as far in advance as possible and confirmed a day or two before the meeting.
- It is best to avoid scheduling meetings in July and August when the heat is most intense.
- Workdays are shorter during Ramadan and since Muslims cannot eat or drink during the day it is another time best avoided since your hosts would not be able to offer you mint tea.
- Most businesses close for lunch from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Businesses may also close at prayer times.
- In general, Tunisians have an open-door policy, even during meetings. This means you may experience frequent interruptions. Others may even wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves.
- Business meetings start after prolonged small talk.
- French is the language of business. If you are not fluent, you may need to hire an interpreter.
- The social side of business is very important. Tunisians must know and like you to conduct business. Personal relationships are necessary for long-term business.
- Companies are hierarchical. The highest-ranking person makes decisions, after obtaining group consensus.
- Decisions are reached after great deliberation.
- Business meetings generally start after prolonged small talk.
- Tunisians look for long-term business relationships.
- Never criticize publicly. It is important not to cause your Tunisian colleagues to lose face.
- Tunisians are non- confrontational. They may agree in meetings rather than cause you to lose face. They do not like to say '' overtly.
- Deadlines are seen as fluid rather than cast in stone.
- Decisions are made slowly. Do not try to rush the process as it would be interpreted as an insult.
- It generally takes several visits to accomplish simple tasks. Be patient.
- Do not use high-pressure tactics.
- Do not rush or show impatience with the time taken to accomplish something.
- Business attire is formal and conservative.
- Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits to the initial meeting.
- In the heat of the summer, it is often possible to dispense with the suit jacket, although it is best to err on the side of formality.
- Women should wear business suits or dresses.
- Women must be careful to cover themselves appropriately. Skirts and dresses should cover the knee and sleeves should cover most of the arm.
- Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
- Business cards should be bi- lingual: Arabic and French. Alternatively, you may have two cards: English/Arabic and English/French.
- Present your card so the French side faces the recipient.
- Give your business card to the highest-ranking Tunisian first.
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Tunisian Business Etiquette
This is a sort article covering how people behave during business meetings in Tunisia. It helps to know a few things before going to Tunisia as there are little differences which can be frustrating if you do not know beforehand.
By Kris, Aug 24, 2013