When meeting prospective Turkish business partners for the first time, it is a good idea to get to know them on a personal level. Ask about your contact’s family (without being too prying or personal). Questions about children will always be welcomed.
When greeting a Turkish colleague formally for the first time, it is polite to address a man by his full name proceeded by Bay (Bay Frank Campbell). You can address a woman with her full name and Bayan (Bayan Sarah Campbell).
When meeting, shake hands firmly. When departing it is not always customary to shake hands although it is practised occasionally. It is vital that you maintain eye contact while speaking since Turks take this as a sign of sincerity. Long-held gazes or staring are not necessarily perceived as negative (so long as a male isn’t staring at a female).
Turks do not require as much personal space as many other (western) cultures and will stand close to you while conversing and may be more tactile with their body language. Do not back away, as this can be construed as unfriendly. Instead see this a friendly engagement in the conversation
Turks are very proud of their country and will be happy to answer questions about their culture and history. There is a West-East divide in Turkey over the question of Islam. Generally, Eastern Turks are more conservative, whereas Western Turks, especially those in Istanbul, Ankara or İzmir are usually more westernised. Over time you will learn to recognise whether you are dealing with a more conservative or a more westernised colleague or company.
Naturally, in any business situation the discussion of politics can open a ‘can of worms’ and is best avoided unless you have built up a good friendship. Turks are however very curious about what other people think of their country and will be interested to know what you think. Of course, since hospitality is an important aspect of Turkish culture, they will be pleased to hear if you are enjoying your time in Turkey and if you feel well looked after.
When wrapping up your first business meeting with your Turkish business partner, you can say the following:
Tanıştığımıza memnun oldum. It has been a pleasure to meet you.
Ben de memnun oldum. It has also been a pleasure to me.
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