About Slovenes

Generally, Slovenes describe themselves as industrious, honest, a bit jealous, good singers who enjoy a good glass of wine, perhaps a bit on the melancholy side, and with a slight propensity for extremism. We also see our mother tongue, Slovene, as a value and a distinctive feature, which unites us and makes us who we are – Slovenian. We tend to be individualistic, yet we do know how to play in a team. Furthermore, we are passionate about what we love. And that is precisely what we excel at most. Nature and quality of life are the major advantages.

Slovenia has it all – diverse landscape, cultural heritage, numerous opportunities for sports, many cultural events, excellent cuisine and wine. Slovenes are very interested in culture and sport is important; Slovenians are traditionally very keen on mountain hiking and climbing. There is a great variety of mountaineering options. The mountain hiking trails are well-tended and marked. No wonder that Slovenia’s highest mountain, Mount Triglav (2,864 meters or 9,396 feet), became a symbol of Slovenia. A great majority of Slovenes live in their own flats or houses. Over a third of the population lives in towns of more than ten thousand inhabitants. Slovenia’s largest town is its capital, Ljubljana. Other major towns are Maribor, Celje, Koper and Novo mesto. Most people can at the same time enjoy some advantages of rural and urban lifestyles. Slovenes like to build holiday homes in natural settings, away from urban areas, in order to improve the quality of life. One of the most popular hobbies is gardening.

Culture, customs and etiquette of meeting and greeting

Greetings are initially quite formal and reserved.

When meeting someone for the first time the most common greeting is a handshake and a welcoming smile. Also at end of the meeting you shake hands.

It is customary to maintain eye contact during the greeting process.

Close friends and family may kiss twice on the cheek.

First names are only used among close friends and family. For others, we use a person’s first name when we are invited to do so.

Others are addressed using the honorific titles “Gospa” (Madam), “Gospodična” (Miss), or “Gospod” (Sir).

Slovenians are somewhat reserved and may not initially appear friendly to people from other cultures. However once a relationship is built, this changes rapidly.

Gift giving etiquette

Slovenians exchange gifts with family and close friends at Christmas and birthdays.

This is a culture where it is the thought that counts, so the cost of the gift is not important.

If invited to dinner at a Slovene’s house, it is considered good manners to bring flowers to the hostess and a bottle of wine to the host.

Gifts are usually nicely wrapped; there are no real color prohibitions.

Dinning etiquette

If you are invited to a Slovenian’s house:

Arrive on time or within 5 minutes of the stipulated time as this demonstrates respect for your hosts.

Dress casual smart and in clothes you might wear to the office.

It is common to remove your shoes at the door. Most hosts will offer slippers to guests to wear.

Slovenians tend to separate their business and personal lives. Therefore, it is a good idea to refrain from initiating business discussions in social situations.

Expect to be offered some form of refreshments, even if you have not been specifically invited to a meal.

Communication style

Slovenians are egalitarian, yet interestingly our natural communication style tends to be indirect. Nonetheless we are willing to adapt our communication style to the person with whom we are conversing.

We prefer to communicate indirectly with people whom we do not know well. This can be demonstrated by offering vague, roundabout, or non-committed explanations rather than offer a negative response. We are inclined to prefer nonconfrontational business dealings when possible. This means that even when giving a straightforward response, we will generally proceed cautiously rather than hurt another person’s feelings.

We admire modesty and humbleness in business associates. We tend to dislike people who boast about their accomplishments and achievements.

We are naturally soft-spoken and do not raise our voices when conversing. We are also polite, courteous, and respectful of others. We do not interrupt a speaker, preferring to wait for their turn to enter the conversation.

Although we have a good sense of humour, we do not always understand self-deprecating humour. Some caution is advised when teasing others, as such behaviour may be interpreted as putting someone down.

Business meetings

Meetings typically start after a brief period of social chit-chat. Make sure this is not rushed as it is all part of the relationship building process. Although not a relationship-driven culture in the classic sense, Slovenes prefer to do business with those we know and trust. When meeting with a company for the first time, this period of social interchange may be somewhat extended so that your Slovene colleagues get the opportunity to learn something about you as a person and create a perception about your character.

The Slovene business culture is a mix of German efficiency and Italian gusto for life.

Business decision-making processes are often based on hierarchy, and many decisions are still reached at the highest echelons of the company. Final decisions tend to be translated into comprehensive action plans that are followed explicitly.

Dress code

Business dress code

The Slovenian business community considers appearance important and Slovenians tend to spend a lot on designer clothing and jewellery, as the ability to dress well is an expression of social status, affluence and personal success. The way Slovenians dress is also a demonstration of individual style and personal taste.

However, we advise you to choose conservative business attire and avoid bright colours when attending a business meeting, if you want to be taken seriously. For men, a dark coloured suit or jacket and trousers with tie are appropriate business wear, and women are recommended to wear something similarly formal and avoid anything that might be considered provocative.

Companies usually have some form of dress code, with larger companies adopting a more formal style and smaller companies preferring their employees to dress in a more business casual style.

Private dress codes

Like most of Western Europe there is no dress code as such and really anything would be appropriate, but here are some general characteristics:

  • Slovenians generally don’t wear daring clothing with bold prints, patterns and colours;
  • Slovenians value aesthetics;
  • Slovenians are more careful about quality;
  • Sports clothes and clothes with thermal insulation are highly popular in Slovenia due to climate and love of doing various activities outside.

Useful phrases

 English Slovenščina (Slovenian)
 Welcome  Dobrodošli
 Hello (General greeting)  Pozdravljeni
 Zdravo (in cities)
 Hello (on phone)  Halo
 How are you?  Kako se imate? (frm)
 Kako se imaš? (inf)
 Reply to ‘How are you?’  Dobro, hvala, in vi? (frm)
 Dobro, hvala, in ti? (inf)
 What’s your name?  Kako ti je ime? (inf)
 Kako vam je ime? (frm)
 My name is …  Ime mi je …
 Where are you from?  Od kod ste? (frm/pl)
 Od kod si? (inf)
 I’m from …  Sem iz …
 Pleased to meet you  Me veseli
 Good morning
(Morning greeting)
 Dobro jutro (until 8am)
 Dober dan (from 8am until sunset)
 Good afternoon
(Afternoon greeting)
 Dober dan (from 8am until sunset)
 Good evening
(Evening greeting)
 Dober večer
 Good night  Lahko noč
(Parting phrases)
 Good luck!  Srečno
 Cheers! Good Health!
(Toasts used when drinking)
 Na zdravje! (to your health)
 Have a nice day  Lep dan vam želim! (frm)
 Lep dan ti želim! (inf)
 Bon appetit /
Have a nice meal
 Dober tek!
 Bon voyage /
Have a good journey
 Srečno pot
 Yes  Da
 No  Ne
 Maybe  Mogoče
 I don’t know  Ne vem
 I understand  Razumem
 I don’t understand  Ne razumem
 Please speak more slowly  Govorite, prosim, bolj počasi (frm)
 Govorite počasi, prosim (frm)
 Govorite počasneje, prosim (frm)
Prosim, govorite počasneje (frm)
Govori počasneje, prosim (inf)
Prosim, govori počasneje (inf)
 Please say that again  Lahko ponovite?
Lahko ponovite, prosim?
 Please write it down  Lahko to napišete, prosim?
 Ali napišete?
 Do you speak English?  Govorite angleško?
Ali govorite angleško?
 Do you speak Slovenian?  Ali govorite slovensko?
 Yes, a little
(reply to ‘Do you speak …?’)
 Ja, malo
 How do you say … in Slovenian?  Kako se reče po slovensko …?
 Excuse me  Oprostite (frm)
 Oprosti (inf)
 Sorry  Oprostite (frm)
 Oprosti (inf)
 How much is this?  Koliko je to?
 Koliko to stane?
 Please  Prosim
 Thank you  Hvala
 Hvala lepa
 Najlepša hvala
 Reply to thank you  Prosim
 Ni za kaj
 Where’s the toilet / bathroom?  Kje imate stranišče?
 This gentleman will pay for everything  Ta gospod bo plačal vse
 This lady will pay for everything  Ta gospa bo plačala vse
 Would you like to dance with me?  Bi radi plesali z mano? (inf)
 Smem prositi za ples? (frm)
 I miss you  Pogrešam te
 I love you  Ljubim te (m/f)
 Rad te imam (m)
 Rada te imam (f)
 Get well soon  Čimprej se pozdravi
 Go away!  Pojdi stran!
 Leave me alone!  Pustite me na miru!
 Pustite me pri miru!
 Help!  Na pomoč!
 Fire!  Gori!
 Stop!  Ustavite se! (frm)
 Ustavi se! (inf)
 Call the police!  Pokliči policijo! (inf)
 Pokličite policijo! (frm)
 Christmas greetings  Vesel božič
 New Year greetings  Srečno novo leto
 Easter greetings  Vesele velikonočne praznike
 Birthday greetings  Vse najboljše
 Vse najboljše za rojstni dan
 Congratulations!  Čestitke!

( inf = informal, frm = formal, m = said by men, f = said by women)