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Doing Business in Poland

Business Etiquette polandCultural awareness or cultural knowledge is becoming increasingly important in today's global economy. The sentiment that because the "world is getting smaller" our differences are becoming less obvious is recognised as flawed. As people interact and do business across cultural boundaries more often, cross cultural differences become more acute.

Businesses now accept that equipping people with the appropriate cultural awareness can and does impact business operations positively. This guide to doing business in Poland offers a taster of some of the information a cultural awareness briefing would provide.


In this guide we provide some very basic tips for people doing business in Poland. It is important to bear in mind that all we offer are generalisation of Polish culture and society and do not in any way mean to stereotype the Polish people.

Meeting & Greeting:

When doing business in Poland a firm handshake with good eye contact is important when meeting. If meeting or departing from a group ensure each individual is addressed separately rather than a wave for the group. It is polite to wait for a women to extend her hand upon initial meetings.

Poland is a rather formal and hierarchical culture. As a result first names are rarely used initially in the business context. Address people with Pan (Mr.) and Pani (Mrs.) plus the surname. If a relationship warms up to the degree where first names can be used, always await the other party to signal that this is the case.

Communication:

Before doing business in Poland note that it is very much a relationship driven culture. Sincere trust does not usually extend beyond the family circles. The family or the relationship will usually take precedence over work, rules and decisions. Therefore the key to success in the country relies on a strong relationship based on mutual benefit and trust.

Relationship building may be done over food.  Never talk business at such occasion unless it is brought up by the other party. This time should be used to get to know your counterpart better and vice-versa. When invited to a restaurant, the host usually pays the bill; however, it is also polite for the guest to offer. If you plan on being the host speak with the manager or headwaiter and explain that you, and only you, will be paying the bill.

Meetings & Negotiations:

Presentations should be a blend of well organised information backed with statistics and case studies plus a feel-good factor relating to you as a person, your experience and the proposed relationship. This is because Poles make decisions not only based on evidence but also on their own experience, beliefs and sense of right and wrong.

Due to the hierarchical nature of business it will be obvious if the meeting you are in is for exploration or finalisation. If the decision makers are present in a meeting then decisions can be made; otherwise, the meeting will be considered for information sharing and discussion.

Business Culture Guides

We offer free guides to doing business in many countries. Please visit Business Culture Guides for a full list.

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