Austrian Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • A good conversation topic is Austria's regional diversity. Austrians enjoy talking about their home region. Many feel a sense of belonging to their region of birth, even if they left many years ago. Also, show a sense of admiration for Austria's natural beauty and landscapes.
  • Respect an Austrian's personal space. Many value their physical and personal privacy when among strangers. Thus, ask permission before photographing or taking a video of someone. It is also expected that one will knock on doors before entering. Speaking about personal matters and being more open in body language is more acceptable once you have a well-established relationship with your Austrian counterpart.
  • Do try and engage in enriching conversations. Austrians generally have a love for acquiring knowledge and learning. Show an interest in learning about a topic your Austrian counterpart is passionate about, and likewise, feel free to share your thoughts on topics of interest.
  • As for much of Europe, WWII is a sensitive conversation topic, especially for elderly individuals. A feeling of collective responsibility still troubles some Austrians of the older generations. Should the Holocaust and related events arise, speak sensitively and neutrally. The younger generation is more open to such discussions.

 

Don’ts

  • Do not assume Austrians and Germans are the same. There are distinct differences in culture, customs and values between the two countries. Some Austrians may have a sense of resentment towards Germans. As such, don’t refer to an Austrian as a German, and try not to make comparisons between the two countries.
  • Avoid arriving late or cancelling an arrangement last minute. Punctuality is highly valued by Austrians. If you anticipate delays, give your Austrian counterpart warning and an apology for your delay.
  • Try not to cloud what you mean out of modesty or shyness. Austrians prefer straightforward and communication and questions. Being clear and honest is highly valued.
  • Do not make stereotypes or assumptions about Austrians based on the ‘Sound of Music’ musical and movie.
  • Approach conversations about migration carefully. Austria is a transit country for asylum seekers travelling from the coast of Italy to Germany, meaning it is common for people to see such transit refugees loitering at stations. Many Austrians are very understanding of the situation, while others view the situation in a negative light. Similar attitudes can be found towards the Roma people.

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