Business Dinners in Turkey


In her book "Business Know-How Turkey" (Redline Wirtschaft-Verlag, 2008), Işınay Kemmler offers tips for dealing with Turkish business partners during meals together:

» In Turkey, the guest will be pampered and enjoy the Turkish hospitality to the fullest. Lunch is a more formal meal; on the contrary, meals in the evening are more exuberant, and dinner can last well into the night.

» The host, meaning the Turkish business partner, usually will extend an invitation to a meal. Guests should not offer to pay for their part of the meal -- this would be seen as a great faux pas. Generosity is one of the social gestures with which social status is demonstrated. But this should not be confused with the corporate generosity -- negotiating is tough, but fair.

» If a friendly relationship exists, business partners will also be invited to the host's private family home or holiday home. Traditionally, guests should remove their shoes at the home's threshold and instead don slippers provided by the host.

» It is common in Turkey to be compelled to eat constantly. A major part of Turkish hospitality culture is ensuring that guests' appetites are completely satisfied. If you really cannot or do not want to eat any more, say "doydum" ("I'm satisfied"); or, more politlely and more forcefully, "Teşekkürler, çok doydum" ("Thank you, I am quite full").

» After dinner, you will stay sitting for a while. Coffee and digestifs are usually taken in a cozy corner or on the sofa. Guests usually signal they're ready to leave around midnight.

» For those invited to a dinner, gifts for the host are warmly received and actually expected as a courtesy. Flowers are appropriate for the lady of the house. The packaging is also very important. A bottle of whiskey, cognac or a typical souvenir from your home are good gifts for the male of the household. Alcohol is, of course, not an appropriate gift in relgious circles.