Business Etiquette and Customs in Georgia
11 November, 2011
Business Etiquette and Customs in Georgia

Georgia has always been one of the most interesting countries of the world in terms of cross-cultural communications. In this article I would like just to describe basic principles and guidelines in order to facilitate business communication. And before your first visit Georgia, please make sure you know at least snapshot of the history of the country, as Georgians are very proud of their national history and most of them know it by heart.

When meeting someone for the first time,

shake hands while saying “gamarjoba” (“hello”). Once a relationship warms up some, but not all, Georgians will quickly move to a kiss on the cheek. Please do not be surprised that gentlemen kiss each other on the cheek when meeting in the street, or at the business meetings. When addressing people only close friends or family will usually use first names. Patronymic (middle) names are never used!

First names may also be used with the word “Batono” (“Sir”) or “Kalbatono” (“Madam”) immediately afterwards, which brings a sense of formality and this is part of national standard. Most people would expect to be addressed with their appropriate title followed by the surname. As with most European and North American nations, gifts are usually given at birthdays and at Christmas. However in Georgia they also have “name days” - these are the birth dates of Saints whom people are named after. Gifts do not need to be expensive and it is more about the thought and intent behind the gift. If invited to a Georgian home, bring flowers, imported sweets or chocolates to the hosts.

Give an odd number of flowers. Even numbers are given for funerals. Gifts do not need to be elaborately wrapped. A small gift for the children is always appreciated. Gifts are not necessarily opened when received.

As far as dining etiquette is concerned table manners are generally unfussy and relaxed. Meals are above all a time to get together and enjoy. Your Georgian host will want to make sure you are comfortable, well-fed and happy. If in doubt over etiquette then either watch what others do or simply ask. Table manners are Continental, i.e. while eating the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right. Keep your hands visible when eating and try not to rest your elbows on the table. The oldest (or most honored) guest is usually served first. Try all the dishes if you can. You will be offered second and third helpings and accepting them will please the host. Try therefore to take smaller first portions. Finish everything on your plate. Expect lively conversation during the meal.

Georgian business culture is noticeably less formal than in other countries. Shake hands with everyone upon arriving and leaving. Maintain eye contact during the greeting. The person of the higher status should initiate the handshake. It is polite to wait for a woman to extend her hand. Academic and professional titles are commonly used with the surname. Always wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis. Business cards are exchanged without any formal ritual. It is a nice touch to have one side of your business card translated into Georgian or English. Communication style is quick and emotional; Georgians are very relationship-orientated in their outlook. This means that people’s feelings take precedence over facts. It is important to appreciate that you may not say the whole truth if there is bad news. Similarly, you should be sensitive when communicating difficult information. Similarly, in an eagerness to establish a business relationship, Georgians may offer an affirmative response which helps communication flow, compared to Russians it is considered rude to say “No”. One way in which this cultural influence manifests itself is in asking questions in a negative fashion so that the person responding may give a positive response for a negative answer. Georgians are not afraid to express their emotions no matter how bad. Do not be surprised if people do display anger or extreme disappointment during business. Similarly Georgians can be emotive speakers. When discussing a topic, voices may become raised and hand gestures increased. Direct eye contact conveys trust. Maintain eye contact throughout a discussion. Looking away or making intermittent eye contact may be misinterpreted. Although Georgia has a relationship orientated culture, they can also be very direct.

At the beginning of meetings introductions are the norm. These are generally made in order of seniority although women are often introduced first. Be prepared to give an overview of your background, experience and general purpose for your visit. It can also prove fruitful to send a full biography of everyone who will attend the meeting beforehand to save time and also offer a more thorough introduction. A first meeting is often more about seeing if doing business together is possible. Do not expect any contracts to be signed on a first meeting. Time and patience are needed. Meetings may continue over a lunch or dinner. The topic of conversation will shift away from business but this should be used as the time to let the Georgian hosts get to know you on a personal level. In most cases decisions are made at the top of a company. Unless you are meeting with the boss or owner, bear in mind that all your meeting will achieve is getting across the key points that will then be passed upwards to the decision maker. Meetings can be frequently interrupted. Do not interpret this as a sign of disinterest but Georgians will not see any issues with dealing with more than one issue at a time. Americans call this multitasking.

So that’s the story, just a short description of “human business chemistry”, just an attempt to help you be successful .On your way back home you’ll find that your meeting notes are palette of interesting facts and figures and good toasts from the toast-master (“tamada” in Georgian) .Have a nice business trip!

Other Stories
Doing business in Georgia has become easier than in America
According to the Doing Business 2019 report published by the World Bank, Georgia ranked 6th among 190 countries in terms of simplicity of doing business. This was an improvement over two ranks compared to last year.
Problems that foreigners frequently face in Georgia
The importance of Georgia as a tourism hub is growing year after year.
Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower – Better than the Eiffel Tower?
It is planned to renovate the Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower, one of the landmarks in the capital.
Georgian Fusion Menu by The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi
5,895,914 international visitors have visited Georgia between January and August of 2018. Compared to the previous year the number has increased by 12.2 per cent.
Advertising of gambling and lucrative games may become banned in Georgia
Advertising of gambling and lucrative games may become banned in Georgia. Those who violate the new rule would be fined GEL 10 000.
Lebanese café-lounge Beirut opens in Tbilisi
What is necessary to organize an unforgettable event? – Fun, emotions, lots of surprises, good music and delicious menu.
Georgia second among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe
Georgia is among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe. The data is published by the UN World Tourism Organization.
Bitmain launches world digital mining summit in Tbilisi, Georgia
Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu and Roger Ver, CEO of Head Speaker List featuring Circle, and Genesis Mining when Digital Mining Leaders Convene In Tbilisi on September 21-23
TBC Bank and Gazelle Finance have teamed-up to support Medical City, a leading healthcare provider in the western region of Georgia to launch the Western Regional Center Of Modern Medical Technologies.
Equivalent to buried treasure – resources that are underused in Georgia
For 2018 the IMF Commission has forecast an annual economic growth for the Georgian economy of about 5,5%.
Does the quality of Georgian wine increase and how the export affects it
If we look at the data collected about modern Georgian wine, we will find out that the Georgian wines produced between 2015-2017 are much better in terms of their quality and Oenologic features rather than the wines produced between 2009-2011.
Japan simplifies the visa requirements for Georgian citizens
Diplomatic and economic relations between Georgia and Japan are now moving to a new phase. Recently Japan has decided to simplify the visa requirements for Georgian citizens.
M&S (Marks and Spencer) and H&M collections to be produced in Georgia
Garments manufacturer MGMTEX will start production of the M&S and H&M trendy collections from this September.
The World Digital Mining Summit to be held in Georgia
The summit is scheduled to take place between 21st-23rd September in the Hualing Hotel, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Galt and Taggart - Tourism Boom Continues in Georgia
Tourism has become one of the key drivers for the Georgian economy. Galt and Taggart has recently published research about the Georgian tourism sector in the first half of 2018.
"The worst dream for Putin is that Russians want to live in Georgia"
This year, visitors to the Adjara region would notice that there is a boom in construction in and around Batumi.
Underground gas storage facility to be built in Georgia
KfW, a German government-owned development bank signed a EUR 150 million promotional loan with the state-owned Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) for the construction of the first underground gas storage facility in Georgia.
New gambling rules for Georgia
Georgian lawmakers are preparing a new draft law relating to online-casinos and gambling that will seek to curb gambling addiction in Georgia.
How expensive is it to visit Georgia?
The Georgian Lari (GEL) is the official currency of Georgia and is the only legal means of payment in the entire territory of Georgia.
Trade with the EU and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has grown significantly
Trade with the EU and the CIS has grown by 26% and 33.5 % respectively, says GeoStat, the Georgian National Statistics Office.
The unemployment rate decreases in Georgia
The unemployment rate decreased in Georgia by 1,9% and amounted to 12.1% in the 2nd quarter of 2018 compared with the previous quarter,
Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between Georgia and Malaysia
According to the Georgian Ambassador to Malaysia Nikoloz Apkhazava, Georgia plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysia.
“Blauenstein Georgia” due to expand in Georgia
“Blauenstein Georgia” is planning to open more shops in Georgia. It is an agriculture company that sells meat products, meat and convenience food.
The amount of Direct Foreign Investment rises in Georgia
According to the information of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of direct foreign investment in Georgia has risen
It’s going to get  harder for foreigners to get residence permit in Georgia
It’s going to get harder for foreigners to get permit of residence in Georgia.
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Other Stories
Recently Toyota rolled out Global Campaign under this slogan that reflects the Olympic and Paralympic Spirit of Encouragement,
A couple from Switzerland combines Swiss tradition and technology with Georgian products. Their cheese is made in the Georgian mountains and sold in local stores and hotels.
It has been more than five years since the residents of Lilo village, near Tbilisi, cannot open their windows.
63 000 GEL was received by the Georgian Agro Export Group which is just a small part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural development.
Georgian entrepreneur Guka Tavberidze, who runs his own business in the UK and does it quite well, has been invited by BBC
The grand opening of 7-star The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi took place in Georgia’s capital on July 31.
DUSHETI, Georgia – The Georgian government and the World Bank will allocate USD 5.6 million (12 million GEL) to fund
A new Georgian clothing brand named Person has emerged in Georgian market.
Georgia is in the midst of an economic maelstrom, Euronews reports.
Situation at Georgia’s mineral water market is interesting: over the last year, the volume of export has grown by 56 percent. According to “GeoStat”, over $114 million worth of mineral water was sold
GEL Exchange
November 2018
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30