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Greetings From Bulgaria

Bulgaria is still rather a formal society where greetings are concerned, and when meeting new people it is still a fairly reserved society.

On meeting with someone the appropriate greeting in Bulgaria would be a firm hand shake with direct eye contact, followed by the introduction of your name usually using your title of Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms and surname. Only family and close friends use first names, along with a hug and kiss. After a time and when friendship and trust is built a Bulgarian will then use an informal introduction and first names as they would a close family member.

An invitation

Giving gifts is popular in Bulgaria in addition to Birthdays, Name days and Christmas, it is tradition to take a gift when invited to someone's home. However, the gift is often in the form of flowers, chocolates or a bottle of wine or spirits, and not an overly expensive gift that may cause embarrassment. If considering taking flowers it is tradition you take an odd number of stems and do not take Chrysanthemums, gladioli's and lilies as they are used at funerals. If visiting a new born baby take an odd number of gifts. The gift is usually opened upon receiving it.

When invited to dinner at a Bulgarian's home it is generally a casual affair, but there are some things you should know. Wait to be shown where to sit, you will have a napkin to your left and if the other guests unfold them and place them on their laps you do the same, this indicates a more formal meal. It is polite to wait until the host tells you to start to eat. Take a small amount first, and then this allows a second serving, eating well shows appreciation. Do not rest elbows on the table, but always ensure your hands are on show all the time. Drinks will be continually refilled, but if you have had enough leave a small amount in the glass.

Business

Business greetings in Bulgaria are similar as meeting someone new, a firm handshake, direct eye contact and appropriate introduction of oneself using your title and surname. A handshake is done on greeting and when leaving. In initial meetings business cards are exchanged, it is a good idea to have the business card translated into Bulgarian as this would certainly impress the receiver. It is also good to inform your business contact of your history such as academic qualifications, experience and the length of time you have been in business.

It may take time to build up a business relationship in Bulgaria, so it is important to get to know each other first. Often the first meeting is an introduction, and then the following meetings are where business is discussed. You may need to hire the services of interpreters and translators to help with the language. Keeping eye contact is imperative to build trust. Make sure you have all of the necessary statistics to back up your presentation. Avoid too much talking and get straight to the point it will be much easier. Business with Bulgarians is likely to be slow and discussed in detail. The information needs to be taken on board before a conclusion is made. Often there are no deadlines, but your proposal will be scrutinised before a decision is made. It can be hard to get a straight answer, so try to ask in a different way to come to a direct answer. It will not happen overnight, so you will require patience with several meetings. Remember to always stay formal and professional in Bulgaria with greetings and formalities.