Business Etiquette in Poland

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By Dzhingarov

Poles tend to be open and honest during business meetings. At first, however, they may be more formal and reserved when initiating new relationships.

People living abroad appreciate it when foreigners show genuine curiosity for their culture and history.

Polish language

Poles value direct communication, yet also value subtly crafting their message in order to get across in an effective and diplomatic way. This is especially important in business situations where relationships are still being developed; therefore it is crucial that trust be built between Polish associates before trying to forge any business relationships.

Polish families value family relationships highly and place great emphasis on forging and nurturing close personal relationships. This may manifest in their business practices; Polish associates typically look to the guidance of their immediate supervisors before taking decisions in closed circles of peers.

Polish businesspeople generally adhere to formalities when conducting their dealings. At initial meetings, it is traditional for the most senior person present to open proceedings by verbally offering an agenda for discussions.

When making an introduction, it is courteous to use both the person’s full name and title in making introductions. At the start of a meeting, exchanging business cards can also be seen as part of proper protocol; if someone’s title does not appear printed on their card it is perfectly acceptable to request that it is added later.

Polish culture generally utilizes first names as the means to form personal relationships; therefore it is best to refrain from using first names in email communication with Polish business associates as this could be taken as a sign of disrespect. Instead, titles or honorifics such as Pan, Pani or Sir should be used more frequently when speaking through emails and business cards should also include translated versions with individual’s titles displayed.

Dress code

Poles tend to dress formally and conservatively when attending business meetings; businessmen wear dark suits with ties while women typically don a suit or skirt with blouse. Small businesses or startups may allow more relaxed dress codes.

Handshakes in Poland are firm and eye contact is highly prized. At initial meetings, Polish associates may give each other gifts or offer flowers afterward; at meals, important associates are typically seated on the right-hand side of their host and suggested toasts or speeches can often take place either during or after meals. It is considered impolite to kiss hands during business meetings as it can be taken as an insulting sign; handshakes are preferred over kissing hands, although polite smiles also suffice. Furthermore, men-on-men kisses may even be seen as mockery!

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It is wise to have business cards printed both in English and Polish with your titles, degrees, and job description listed on them. Polish associates tend to be very respectful of titles; you should address them by title until invited otherwise. Furthermore, including a photo may make for a lasting impression!

Polish culture values hard work and it is commonplace for people to work throughout their entire day without taking lunch breaks. Since communism’s fall, a younger generation of young Polish associates has entered business environments; often adhering to more Western styles of communication. Older associates still hold onto many practices from Soviet times; thus becoming less flexible or accommodating than younger colleagues and it is advised to maintain professional standards when conducting business with them.

Meetings

Poland places great value on meetings as part of business etiquette, with the initial meeting usually serving as an introductory session where partners present business opportunities and discuss their viability before determining if there are common grounds for future collaboration. Initial meetings may take place with people of lower rank than decision-makers as it would not be appropriate to meet with such individuals prior to getting acquainted.

Before getting down to business in any meeting, it is often appropriate for parties involved to have a short dialogue on non-business topics before discussing actual issues at hand. But this small talk must always have a purposeful intent and not become overly serious; its aim should be to build trust between all involved. A good way to do this would be showing interest in Polish culture and society while asking pertinent questions about someone’s background or family life.

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Polish businesspeople tend to adhere to a highly structured work ethic and place high value on punctuality. Arriving on time – or even early – for meetings shows your dedication and professionalism; for men this means wearing classic suits while women should opt for knee-length business dresses.

Polish businesspeople tend to be direct and respectful in their communication style. They prefer dealing with facts and projections over speculations. Their negotiation style tends to range from soft to medium-hard; they expect their discussion partner to take the lead during negotiations. They are not fond of making aggressive claims and taking great risks, nor does making jokes about religion, the Catholic church, or Poland’s history fall within this realm of conversation.

Negotiations

Polish business etiquette and culture may be unfamiliar to international visitors, especially during negotiations. Understanding these cultural nuances will allow you to navigate your professional environment with greater ease while avoiding miscommunications and potential misunderstandings.

Poles tend to be straightforward when it comes to negotiations and display their emotions openly; as a result, it’s not unusual for them to become frustrated during discussions, leading them to get annoyed or annoyed with one party over the other. Therefore, foreigners should be wary of this openness and not be shocked if their presentations or speeches are interrupted during them or have to repeat themselves multiple times.

Since Poles can be skeptical of claims from unfamiliar sources, having solid research or data to back any proposals you present is paramount for both small and large businesses alike when working with government agencies or local governments. By providing proof of reliability to Polish business associates, more trust will be earned and relationships can flourish more readily.

Polish business culture is highly hierarchical, making it essential that meetings take place with the correct individuals within a company in order for your proposal to be taken seriously. Although foreign visitors may initially meet with lower-ranking employees at the company, for optimal results it is recommended that they request meeting the general manager as quickly as possible.

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At an initial meeting, it is customary to shake hands with all those present and introduce yourself using both first name and surname as a means of showing professionalism. A firm handshake shows your professional attitude. Eye contact should also be valued during discussions; look your colleagues in the eyes when speaking and use a polite smile when shaking their hands. Furthermore, business cards should include titles or designations such as academic or professional titles on them to complete this introduction process.

Hospitality

Polish business culture embodies a strong spirit of hospitality. Business associates recognize the value of creating strong, trustful relationships; as such, business settings and social worlds alike reflect this idealized treatment of fellow associates.

Meeting Poles requires a firm handshake with direct eye contact and greetings that usually involve small talk. When exchanging business cards, make sure the Polish version comes first; generally printed business cards in Poland will likely be in English; it would be beneficial to bring along an extra copy as a back-up plan.

Business meetings often feature gifts given as tokens of appreciation to mark the beginning and ending of relationships. Items commonly appreciated during these encounters include wine, high-quality coffee and chocolates; flowers can also be accepted though it should be remembered that certain varieties (chrysanthemums in Poland are associated with funerals). It’s also common to receive meal invitations; when entering someone’s home it is polite to remove your shoes before entering.

Though Poles are known for their hospitality, international business visitors may still find them suspicious due to the country’s turbulent Soviet-era history and history of foreign dominance. Therefore, expats should seek to form relationships through trusted third parties in order to foster trust between parties involved and build rapport over time. When pitching sales pitches, hard data rather than emotional appeals is usually preferred among Poles; extended silence during negotiations should also be seen as part of the negotiation process as Polish businessmen often take time before reaching agreements on deals.