Bulgarian collaborations

The Bulgarian economy is flourishing and has been registering continuous growth for years, which greatly pleases the rest of the global market. For that reason, we want to use today’s blog post to give you some tips that should be kept in mind when it comes to collaborations with Bulgarians.

The Republic of Bulgaria, with a total of 7.1 million inhabitants, is located on the eastern half of the Balkan Peninsula. Bulgaria has particularly intensive economic relationships with the rest of Europe. For your business collaborations to be crowned with success, we’d like to explain which characteristics are most likely to lead to misunderstandings during interactions with Bulgarians.

Communicate in a roundabout way

The first thing you should know is that Bulgarians tend to communicate more indirectly than you may be used to. While people in some cultures like to get to the point as fast as possible and express exactly what they mean [even critical things], this is different in Bulgaria. Softer tones are struck there in order to preserve harmonic relationships between discussion participants and not to hurt the feelings of counterparts. Bulgarians consequently often perceive direct forms of communication to be impolite.

Here’s what to do in practice when you have a discussion with a Bulgarian: question what was said, read between the lines and, above all, don’t blurt anything out. In the ideal case, cross-cultural training, bulgaria, cross-cultural training bulgaria, indirectness, time, small talk, presentationyou should express yourself cautiously and indicate criticism softly [in private].

Different senses of time also often lead to misunderstandings during collaborations with Bulgarians. In Western cultures, a monochronic understanding of time tends to prevail. This means that things are planned meticulously and completed successively, which allows little room for spontaneity. In Bulgaria, it’s exactly the opposite. Fixed plans are only made in exceptional cases, and different tasks are often handled simultaneously. This is what’s understood by a polychronic understanding of time.

Be careful with time management

What this specifically means for your everyday business is that appointments and deadlines you might consider fixed serve rather as a rough guide in Bulgaria. Tardiness [e.g., at meetings or when submitting documents] has nothing to do with unprofessionalism according to Bulgarian sensibilities. If, for instance, you create a chronological schedule for a project involving Bulgarians, make it a little more flexible and plan enough temporal buffers. If you absolutely need a Bulgarian colleague’s work on a particular day, however, emphasize its relevance and explain to your counterpart how a delay would affect you and what it would entail.

In addition to various communication styles and understandings of time, you should also pay heed to the following things when interacting with Bulgarians:

  • The separation of private and professional lives that you may be used to is rather uncommon in Bulgaria. Private conversations at the workplace in Bulgarian companies are not uncommon; they serve to establish sound personal relationships. Open up a bit and join in!
  • Innocuous small-talk topics include traditional dishes [e.g., the national dish, bob chorba – bean soup] and tourist attractions. Avoid political topics.
  • If you have to hold a presentation in front of Bulgarian colleagues, don’t clutter it with too many facts and figures. Make the presentation a little less formal, include some pictures and incorporate enough breaks.

If you bear these points in mind and approach all your pending contacts with empathy and reflection, nothing will stand in the way of successful collaboration. Of course, these are just general tips that should be adapted depending on the situation and whom you’re speaking with. This advice is primarily a guideline and should not be understood as mandatory directions. At the following link, you can learn more details about our entire range of topics.


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About Sophie Humpisch

I studied business communication and cross-cultural competence. During my studies I lived abroad for a long time and therefore experienced cross-cultural differences on my own. I have been with Eidam & Partner since 2014, being responsible for the support and recruiting of cross-cultural experts. Eidam & Partner offers worldwide services related to cross-cultural communication, such as cross-cultural training, cross-cultural coaching, eLearning and preparation for international assignments for more than 80 target countries.
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