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Home » Country Etiquette » Estonia

Estonian Etiquette Tips

Before visiting Estonia, it would be wise to learn a little bit about their history to avoid putting your foot in your mouth. For instance, Estonia was occupied by Germany in the 1940s and it was also part of the U.S.S.R. for a while. Be very careful when bringing up the U.S.S.R. and definitely don't mistake an Estonian for being Russian!

Estonians are very hardworking people and extremely proud of their nation. They are particularly proud of the fact that they have managed to remain independent after all it had been through. Out of respect for Estonia and its people, you should follow their etiquette. Below is a list of Estonian etiquette to help you out!

1. Dress Attire

  1. DO dress conservatively.

2. Table Manners

  1. DON'T sit until invited to sit down.
  2. DON'T eat until the host begins or until someone says "head isu" which means "good appetite."
  3. DON'T put your elbows on the table.
  4. DO compliment the host and finish everything served to you.

3. Greetings

  1. DO shake hands firmly upon meeting someone. Maintain eye contact.
  2. DON'T remain seated while greeting someone. Stand up!
  3. DO wait for a woman to extend her hand first.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DO give odd numbers of flowers, not even.
  2. DO open a gift upon receipt.

5. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DON'T be late! And if you think you will be running late, call to explain.
  2. DO take your shoes off.
  3. DON'T ask for a tour of the house. In Estonia, homes are considered private.
  4. DO offer your hosts help with preparation or with cleaning up.
  5. DON'T discuss business
  6. DO bring a gift for your host, such as chocolates or flowers.

6. Business Meeting

  1. DO have one side of your business card translated into Estonian. Present the business card in a way so that the recipient can read it.
  2. DO understand that Estonians prefer to do business with friends. Business lunches and dinners will be primarily social so that your Estonian colleagues can get to know you better.
  3. DO remember that business is very formal in Estonia.
  4. DO be patient. It may take a few meetings for a decision to be made.

7. Socializing and Conversation

  1. DON'T raise your voice. Soft voices are more commonly used in Estonia.
  2. DON'T offer compliments unless they are genuine. Estonians aren't quick to give out compliments, so if you give too many it might be suspicious.
  3. DON'T refer to Estonia as "Eastern Europe." Estonians consider themselves to be Nordic.
  4. DO be careful when bringing up the U.S.S.R.
  5. DON'T confuse an Estonian with being Russian.

Because Estonians are so proud of their heritage, it's very important to follow their etiquette. As a visitor to their country, it will help you not only fit in better, but it shows a great amount of respect. Have a wonderful trip!

 
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