Canadians are usually very well prepared for meetings, they know what to expect and what information they require. It is therefore necessary to be well prepared for the meeting. Canadians are very polite, an aggressive style of dealing has no place in Canadian business culture.
In Canada, you are more or less automatically expected to speak English. In the case of the francophone province of Québec, French is an advantage, but usually not necessary.
It is common to address partners by their first name, even in written communication (although addressing them by last name is also used, together with the use of Mr. or Ms.), along with the informal greeting “Hi” or “Hello”. The exception is the province of Québec, where the French pronunciation of “beard” is common. Unlike the United States, it is not appropriate to use the address “Dear”, which is perceived as a private, more intimate address. Similarly, “Sir” or “Madam” is perceived as archaic.
The meeting usually takes place in the partner’s office. The best days for negotiations are Tuesday – Thursday, ideally between ten and three, while the same applies to phone calls (which, due to the time difference, reduces the planning possibilities to about two to three hours a day). Punctuality is important and valued. In the case of an expected less formal meeting, it is also possible to arrange a working breakfast or coffee. Working lunches are not common, they can be organized with long-term and informal business partners. Working dinners, with the exception of larger social and business events (fairs, missions, etc.) practically do not exist – Canadians value their privacy and free evenings.
The meeting agenda is, for more complex meetings, usually agreed upon in advance. The conversation is mostly informal, but at the same time very polite. Shorter small talk is common, we recommend, for example, travel topics related to Prague or Europe and things typical of the Czech Republic – culture, hockey, food. You need to have business cards in English, in the case of negotiations in Québec it is advisable to have French or bilingual English-French. Business cards usually don’t list academic degrees, but positions. It is common to have a mobile number listed on a business card. Gifts are not exchanged during a business meeting, or only very rarely.
Working hours in Canada are similar to the Czech Republic, with a slightly later start and end. Meetings before nine o’clock are very special to me. The last meeting should be scheduled for three in the afternoon. Canadians do not work during holidays, if the holiday falls on a weekend, the day off is always transferred to the following Monday. Please note that some holidays vary by province.
- PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Canada. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.
Canadian companies want to know clearly what the negotiations are for and where they should lead. You need to be prepared for it, including detailed questions – if you don’t know the answer, it’s better to admit it and promise information than to resort to an evasive answer. It is also quite common in Canada to use, especially in the initial conversation, phrases and turns that relativize future commitments and do not give the impression that you want immediate activity and signing of a contract from a possible future partner. If you start the conversation outlining your expectations and demands on the other side, it will be difficult to convince Canadians. It is not necessary to unnecessarily hide what you want to achieve, it is rather a suitable way of presentation.
Canadians are usually very well prepared for meetings, they know what to expect and what information they require. In all circumstances, they are very polite and do not perceive the meeting as a conflict, which they rather try to avoid. It’s not that they are poor negotiators, it’s about their communication style. An aggressive business style has no place in Canadian business culture.
Canada is a bilingual country, and if you have interests in Québec as well, you need to be prepared and respond accordingly. Attention, Quebec must be approached first and foremost as Quebec, and not as Canada. Provincial identity is generally very strong, and this is doubly true in French-speaking Canada, including the appreciation of communication in French, almost a necessity for written materials. The rest of the country is dominantly English, which is matched by a pragmatic business culture. But don’t mention in the conversation that you have similar ideas about Canada as you do about the United States – it could be perceived as offensive.
Canadians are punctual and expect the same. If you are late for some reason, it is a good idea to let us know by phone or email. Meetings tend to be clear, to the point, with the possibility of informal conversation before or after the meeting. In the case of questions or follow-up communication, Canadians usually expect a response within 24 hours. Canadians are informal, friendly and at the same time very polite. They do not express much emotion during negotiations (apart from joking), nor do they expect it, especially not emotions in the form of a raised voice or pressure. These are more or less considered unacceptable.
Alcohol is taboo during business meetings. In the case of evening informal meetings, it is of course a regular part, in a moderate form.
The tie is rather on the decline, but it’s not a mistake.
Canadians clearly separate work and private life. An invitation to your home can only be expected from a very long-term partner with whom you would establish a friendly relationship.
You are more or less automatically expected to speak English. In the case of Québec, French is highly appreciated but not essential, although at least a few polite phrases will please. If you do not speak English, we recommend that you find a partner who will be able to act and present in English. It is necessary to avoid making comments between Czech participants in Czech – this can be perceived as very impolite. Visit Calculatorinc for more information about Canada culture and traditions.
English is spoken practically everywhere, even in the vast majority of Québec it is possible to communicate. French is very little spoken outside of Québec.
It is definitely better to avoid jokes in the beginning (especially the typical Czech sarcastic humor), as Canadians have a relatively strong sense of political correctness. They value Canada, respect for others, tolerance, they don’t like reservations about their own government (at least outwardly). They prefer to build long-term relationships, but at the same time, it can take a long time to establish a business partnership.
It can be difficult to move forward after the first contact, also because Canadians, thanks to their politeness, do not like to refuse cooperation directly. Personal negotiations are necessary in the long term, if it is a one-off delivery or deliveries of a smaller value. Email or telephone, or applications such as Skype, MS Teams or Zoom are alternatives, authorities often use Webex. WhatsApp, popular in Europe, is less widespread in North America.
In the case of a trip to Canada, be well prepared, have clearly selected partners in advance, to whom you will be able to present the benefits of cooperation with you and why they should pay attention to you. If your products or services are subject to regulation or certification, be prepared to answer questions about how you expect them to be secured, including who will bear the financial costs. Be prepared for the fact that the knowledge of the Czech Republic and Europe in general is lower than what we are used to. Also, keep in mind that Canadians are highly risk averse and it can take a long time to see a pending case (especially the first one) through.
Canadians have partly similar holidays as in the Czech Republic, New Year’s, Easter, Christmas, and their own specific holidays, which often differ by province. If the holiday falls on a weekend, the day off is moved to the following Monday.
- New Year -1. January
- Good Friday – Great Friday
- Easter Monday – Easter Monday
- Victoria Day – the last Monday before May 25
- Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day – June 24 (Québec only)
- Canada Day – July 1st l Civic Holiday – First Monday in August
- Labor Day – the first Monday in September
- Thanksgiving Day – second Monday in October
- Remembrance Day – November 11
- Christmas Day – December 25
- Boxing Day – 26 December