Doing business in Poland

In Poland, how you communicate trumps what you communicate – in social as well as economic life – which means that harmonious personal relations have top priority.

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In order to establish the personal relations that are essential for success with Polish partners, you should make sure that you inquire about their family, make small gifts and explicitly express gratitude. You will also get more credit here than anywhere else in the world for having some knowledge of the local language. 

Superficial small talk, however, is not popular. It is really more about getting to know each other well personally, before you work together. Simply talking about the weather is not going to help.

Politeness is part of Polish mentality

Conversations with Poles are generally very polite and little direct. Arguments should be avoided in order to prevent damage to personal relations. Poles find it very difficult to separate the professional from the personal when disputes arise. Thus, if you argue with a Pole about a business detail, you will inevitably offend him personally. The role and the individual can hardly be separated from one another in Polish business culture.

Creating a harmonious atmosphere is crucial for a problem to be openly discussed. Anything else can jeopardise the entire personal and, in turn, business relationship. Difficult negotiations are thus always accompanied by personal conversations. It is important to continually highlight the possible success for both sides in order to maintain a positive prevailing mood at any point in the negotiations.

Good relations are a success

In some countries, collaborations or joint projects are generally developed and evaluated on the basis of concrete facts. In Poland, collaboration is deemed a success as soon as a good business relationship has been established. 

That is the case if the benefits of a business partnership are equal for both sides. Even if the figures don’t equate to a genuinely successful project, the relationship is being valued and looked after in the long term. Here, again, it is obvious, which priorities dominate business culture.

For foreign business people in Poland it is important to treat the host culture with respect and tolerance and under no circumstances display impolite or arrogant behaviour. Those who accept the existing cultural differences in communication patterns, will be greeted with open arms in one of Europe’s most hospitable countries.

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