The following are some of the main cultural barriers that can affect communication in Estonia:
- Hierarchy is important to Estonians, so they are more likely to defer to authority figures and those with higher ranks than they are to other people.
- The Estonians have a reputation for being direct and to the point. They don't tend to fill the air with small talk or compliments, so if you're not used to this kind of communication style, it can be difficult to know when they're done talking.
- They generally choose words carefully and avoid confrontation or conflict whenever possible.
- Estonians are generally very direct and honest in their communications; however, they do not always give feedback in a timely manner. If you ask someone a question and he or she answers it right away, he or she may have already decided on the answer before you asked it! This can make it difficult for non-native speakers of Estonian who are used to having more time to respond to questions or situations in other languages.
- Estonians like to keep things light and friendly; they tend not to get too serious about things that don't matter much or aren't that important, which can make it difficult for them to take things seriously when necessary.
- Estonians are generally reserved. While this does not mean that they are not friendly or welcoming, it does mean that they may be slow to open up and share their true thoughts and feelings. They like to think about what they want to say before speaking and can seem quiet or reluctant when first meeting new people.
- Estonians are very polite people who use many words when addressing one another, especially when asking questions or offering compliments; however, they can also be very blunt when making a point or disagreeing with someone's opinion (politeness often goes out the window during heated discussions).