Poland Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Poles are very proud of their country and its traditions and history. At the same time, they are aware of the country’s economic growth in recent years and the potential for foreign companies and investors, including Czech ones. When operating in Poland, one must take into account the deep Catholic foundation of the Poles and the consequent strong position of the Catholic Church, which can be seen, for example, in the mutual relationship between politics and the church, in the way religious holidays are celebrated (in contrast to the profaneness of Czech Christmas and Easter) or the influence of the church in primary education.

Addressing

The partner is addressed according to the function performed – Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Minister, Mr. Director, etc. When addressing their representatives, we use the function of a higher level – so Deputy Prime Minister, or the deputy minister is addressed to Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Minister. Preservation of formal address is strongly recommended in Poland, addressing by first names can only be used for established business relationships.

Business meeting

It is recommended to arrange a business meeting in time and to hold it in an office, restaurant or on the occasion of various events (fair, conference, workshop, etc.). Business breakfasts (10:00–12:00), lunches (14:00–16:00) and dinners (19:00–22:00) are popular. Since hierarchization plays a very important role for Poles, a lower-ranking executive usually visits a higher-ranking executive. Usually, the highest-ranking person will propose a course of action within their purview and expect the other party to conform. When setting the meeting dates, it is necessary to pay attention to Polish church and national holidays, for many Poles they are a particularly important part of national identity. In some cases, holidays are associated with the vacation period.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Poland. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

The getting-to-know-you phase is usually not too long, after the exchange of business cards it goes straight to the business meeting. Business cards of Polish partners are mainly in Polish, rarely translated into English on the back. Editing business cards is standard (similar to the Czech Republic) and contains basic information. Poles are good hosts, but they also like to be invited. If the meeting is connected with lunch, there is usually a casual conversation, the conversations have a lighter character. It is better to discuss work and business matters at the end or over coffee. During repeated visits, it happens that partners exchange small attentions, promotional items, calendars, or a bottle of alcoholic beverage. It is appropriate to give flowers to women on such an occasion.

As for timing the meeting, 8 am is too early, it’s basically considered impolite to start before 9 am. In Warsaw, negotiations usually start at 10 o’clock at the earliest. Offering meetings after 4 p.m., with the exception of a working dinner, is also not appropriate. Normal working hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Coffee breaks and light refreshments during meetings are taken for granted. Unannounced visits are inappropriate. In the event that the deadline cannot be met, the Polish partner must be notified in time and a new negotiation agreed upon.

Poles are great enthusiasts, or even incorrigible optimists. During negotiations, it is good to maintain a positive attitude, determination and realism. Poles are very fond of compliments, but only those that are deserved. That’s why you shouldn’t overdo it with compliments, they are sensitive to fakes.

Poles are very capable, assertive, self-confident and persistent negotiators with a definite “win-lose” negotiation style. Since they are really good at negotiating, they are happy to negotiate and often for a very long time with the goal of making money. They go to meetings well prepared and relatively quickly estimate the strength or, on the contrary, the weaknesses of the opposing party. They are good at argumentation, on the other hand, systematicity can sometimes cause them problems. Personal relationships and emotions are not important to them, and they do not even try to pretend that they are interested in working together in the future. They are primarily concerned with negotiating a contract today, they do not look too much at what will happen in a year. This in no way means that they have to close the deal at all costs.

They will close the trade only if they achieve the expected profit. Once the meeting starts, team members have extensive speeches and it takes quite a while to get to the heart of the matter. If the negotiations do not develop in their favor, they calmly prolong it before beating their business partners. He is not even afraid of open conflict. A relatively popular tactic is “limited authority”, following the corporate hierarchy is widely known. Poles are very happy to haggle over the price. It should be taken into account that it can be very inflated at the beginning and it is not a good idea to accept the first offer.

Punctuality is expected for appointments, but being late is common. In general, the delay is respected and the reasons for it are usually long commutes to the meeting place, poor road conditions and traffic jams. Despite this well-known fact, the Poles don’t keep a reserve of time and count on the fact that at worst they will be late. However, the excuses of a foreigner about the poor level of Polish roads or transport would be inappropriate.

Personal relationships and emotions are not very important to Poles during negotiations, and they do not even try to pretend to be interested in future cooperation. They usually behave professionally in business meetings. Non-verbal communication is indistinct, gesticulation is basically non-existent and facial expressions are only sporadic.

There are no fundamental differences within Poland. However, Poland is a large country that was created from three to four different cultural and social environments (Silesia and Galicia, Greater Poland and Pomerania, Mazovia and Eastern Poland) resulting from different historical developments. In terms of way of thinking, culture, environment and customs, Silesia is closest to us.

Regarding the offer of alcohol during a business meeting – during the preparation and important part of the meeting, the offer and consumption of alcohol would not support the seriousness of the business partner. On the other hand, serving alcohol after a successful meeting in the afternoon or in the evening, in small doses. Even on the occasion of a working lunch, it is recommended to observe moderation in drinking.

Dressing for work meetings is similar to that in the Czech Republic. Polish business partners dress well and take care of their grooming and hairstyle, quality branded clothing is part of the corporate culture. For gentlemen, a suit, tie and high-quality ankle boots are a matter of course, while ladies usually dress in elegant suits for meetings. During business meetings in companies, it is possible to meet workers dressed less formally.

The age and gender composition of the negotiation team does not play a fundamental role, its composition always depends on the given situation and the subject of the negotiation. Quite logically, there should be a spokesperson in the team who will take the opening word and determine the main direction of the meeting. In Poland, young people have more respect for their elders and recognize their life experiences more, which is also reflected in the emergence of negotiation teams.

In Poland, it is not very common to invite a business partner home. And that is with the exception of already built long-term relationships. An invitation to a family is considered a relatively significant sign of trust, in which case it is appropriate to bring flowers to the hostess, and attention to the host, or children, is also good. Gifts of Czech origin are used (Czech glass, Becherovka, etc.).

Communication

Knowledge of Polish is a big advantage in negotiations and correspondence. Otherwise, we recommend using the services of an interpreter. Although Czech and Polish are very similar, they are not completely intelligible. There are also words and conjunctions that have a shifted or completely opposite meaning. It is of course possible to communicate in English (German only to a limited extent), but the Polish partner always welcomes the opportunity to speak in his native language. Among foreign languages, most young Poles are fluent in English. A good command of English is also found in central offices and in large, mostly international companies. Nevertheless, according to a survey by TNS Polska, almost half of Poles state that they do not speak any foreign language. Knowledge of Polish opens doors for foreigners. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Poland culture and traditions.

Poles are open to a wide range of conversations. Suitable topics for light conversation are travel and holidays, the manager will not spoil anything if he praises the place of meeting. Poles are very sensitive to historical events. By learning a few essential facts from Polish history, you will earn your partner’s respect in this way.

Czechs should be very careful about the use of humor in negotiations, or if possible don’t use it at all. Poles are not big pranksters and they may not understand various funny or typically Czech ironic allusions. This is how the Polish comparison arose, that it is something like a “Czech film” – incomprehensible, incomprehensible, with a strange sense of humor. In no way do we recommend joking or criticizing the Church or anything related to the Catholic Church. Poles also like to talk about politics. However, it is a controversial topic that is better avoided.

The basis of success is personal dealings and an individual approach to the partner. The Polish business partner will welcome if the Czech partner informs him in advance about everything important, mainly via e-mail or by phone. In personal negotiations, the Polish partner should not be confronted with substantial changes in business parameters. Essential business details must be communicated directly to the manager, or responsible worker. Less important matters can be dealt with by phone or e-mail. The use of social media (e.g. WhatsApp) in preparation for business meetings is rather an exception in the state administration and in most Polish companies, while it is relatively common among young companies and startups.

Recommendation

You need to have well-set expectations and resources. It is also necessary to devote adequate time to the Polish market and not to underestimate preparation. It is ideal to set aside an employee who will specifically focus on the Polish market, establish a branch or hire an experienced partner. Of course, you need to invest in marketing activities. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Polish market has rapidly changed, especially in the field of digitization. Therefore, even smaller companies can try to expand their activities to Poland, especially thanks to e-commerce.

The surest way is to open your own branch, build your own distribution network and manage customers. On the other hand, it is the most expensive and takes the longest time. If Czech companies do not want to invest so much and want to establish themselves on the local market more quickly, then it is possible to find a reliable local partner and use their contacts. But he must be sure that it is really a reliable partner and constantly check him.

It is worth paying extra attention to the conclusion of contracts – if there are any ambiguities in the draft contract, it is always advisable to consult with a lawyer familiar with Polish law. Clear and concise expression can be recommended during negotiations. You have to be prepared for very long negotiations, Polish partners can be very tenacious on key issues, such as prices.

There is a belief in Poland that the Polish language is very difficult and inaccessible for foreigners. Learn a few basic words, it will help you break the stereotype and improve relations with Polish business partners.

Public Holidays

  • January 1 – New Year (New Year)
  • January 6 – Three Kings (Trzech Króli)
  • Easter (Wielkanoc) – variable date : 17.–18. April 2022; 9-10 April 2023
  • May 1 – Labor Day (Święto Pracy)
  • 3 May – Constitution Day – Promulgation of the first constitution – 1791 (Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja)
  • Pentecost (Zesłanie Ducha Świętego – Zielone Świątki) – variable date , always falls on Sunday: June 5, 2022; May 28, 2023
  • Body of God (Boże Ciało) – variable date , always falls on Thursday: June 16, 2022; June 8, 2023
  • August 15 – Polish Army Day; Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Święto Wojska Polskiego; Wniebowięcie Najświętszej Maryi Panny)
  • November 1 – All Saints (Wszystkich Świętych)
  • November 11 – Independence Day – Restoration of State Sovereignty – 1918 (Święto Niepodległości)
  • 25-26 December – Christmas (Boże Narodzenie)

Poland Culture of Business