How would you describe the way Czechs communicate?
To people from Asia, for example, we seem very direct. That’s the same for Latin American countries. My husband is from Latin America and he says that our way of speaking sometimes sounds harsh. I would say Czechs are really just being transparent and straightforwarddirektstraightforward. This means there is not a lot of space for misunderstanding.
Klára Kutišová is the director of AFS in the Czech Republic. The organization provides intercultural exchanges and education for people across the globe. She tells us how Czechs communicate and how the communist period still has an impactAuswirkung(en)impact on contemporary Czech society.
Are Czechs open people in general?
At the beginning of an interaction with people they don’t know, Czechs seem direct, but not as direct as Germans. Once they feel secure and more comfortable in a situation, they open up and provide space for people to get closer to them. Then, the more comfortable they are, the more they use humour. At first, Czechs don’t have what we call a “strong elbow”. This means they are not assertivedurchsetzungsstark, selbstbewusstassertive, especially when it comes to confrontations. That’s related to the communist past.
So, 30 years after the end of communism, it still has an impact?
Oh, yes. You would be so surprised! People of my generation and my parents’ generation don’t feel comfortable confronting their boss, for example. This is something that needs to be strengthened. In contrast, the young generation, people coming out of university, are much stronger when it comes to expressing their opinions. You cannot change the mentality of people in their 60s or 70s. There is also a critical-thinking issue. The majority of middle-aged people tend to believe in or to trust what is said in the media. They don’t look at it critically and they don’t try to find another source of information. Again, the younger generation is really better at this.