11 Austrian Proverbs Help Explain Business Negotiations
January 11, 2018
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Austrian business people are detail-oriented and non-confrontational negotiators. They prefer analysis and data to hype and exaggeration. Read below to gain insight into their method of negotiating through some Austrian proverbs.
1. Erfolg hat mehr als einen Vater.
Translation: Success has more than one father.
This proverb means that many people have contributed to a successful enterprise, not just the person who is given the credit for it. Austrians very much believe in a social and business common good, and this is also reflected in the concept of Sozialpartnerschaft, or social partnership, which promotes dialogue and co-determination in industrial relations. It is essential to develop a common goal with an Austrian business person.
2. Der Gscheitere gibt noch, der Dumme foit indn Boch.
Translation: The cleverer gives in, the stupid falls into the bush.
Austrian business people do not like high pressure negotiations. Do not attempt the hard sell with them. They avoid confrontation and would rather give in than cause an argument.
3. Die Technik ist ein Hund.
Translation: The Technology is a dog
The English equivalent is “the Devil’s in the detail.” These proverbs mean that something that seems simple at first is actually complicated upon closer inspection. Austrian business people place great emphasis on detail and enjoy data. Illustrate your points with graphs or case studies and have your data translated.
4. Ghupft wia ghatscht.
Translation: Hopped just as jumped.
The English equivalent is “six of one, half a dozen of the other.” These mean that two things are the same but simply looked at in a different way. Austrian business people dislike hype and exaggeration and prefer close analysis.
5. Wos da Baua ned kennd, frissta a ned.
Translation: What the farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t eat.
This is used when someone refuses to try something new. Austrian business people negotiate cautiously.
6. Das Glück ist ein Vogerl.
Translation: Luck is a bird.
This means that luck is unsteady. Austrian business people trust facts and data and dislike hype and exaggeration. Include lots of data to illustrate your points in negotiation.
7. Was liegt, das pickt.
Translation: What lies, stays.
This means that if something has been done, it should stay like that. Austrian business people adhere strictly to terms and conditions that are written. They will often put these terms on the back of orders and invoices in German. These conditions become part of the agreement if not objected to.
8. Schaffa, schaffa, Hüsle baua.
Translation: Work, work, build a house.
This means one is hardworking. Austrian business people work hard, but adhere strictly to office hours. They keep private and business life entirely separate, and strictly work and do not socialize at the office. They believe strongly in productivity and underlining your work ethic in negotiation will build trust.
9. Jemandem einen Bären aufbinden.
Translation: To tie a bear on someone.
The closest English equivalent would be “to put one over someone” – or to bamboozle them. Like most of us, Austrians don’t like to be taken in. It is important when communicating in Austria to be explicit and direct, so that an Austrian importer/exporter does not miss your meaning. Indirectness can be mistaken for lack of organized thought, insincerity, or dishonesty.
10. Das ist ein Streit um des Kaisers Bart.
Translation: An argument over the emperor’s beard.
Austrian business people emphasize detail in negotiation, but are wary that there is the possibility of too much detail
If you ever find yourself in an argument with an Austrian and they resort to semantic arguments, drop this one on them. The English equivalent would be “to split hairs”. That is, to make small and overly fine distinctions. Austrian business people emphasize detail in negotiation, but are wary that there is the possibility of too much detail!
11. Die Kirche im Dorf lassen.
Translation: Leave the church in the village.
Austrian business people like to play it safe. It warns you to avoid taking risks. Austrians are conservative in their approach to business negotiations.
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