As the Polish saying goes, “A guest in the house is God in the house”, therefore you should receive a delegation from Poland as a blessing, so to speak. Spare no effort in making your Polish guests’ stay as pleasant as possible. This means providing hospitality that leaves nothing to be desired. From a Polish perspective, it is vital to have a specific contact person, who can answer any queries that crop up prior to or during their stay. The optimal solution is to give your guests the contact details of somebody who is available at all times.
Hotel and transfer
You should preferably select a hotel of a good international standard to accommodate the delegation. As the host, it is up to you to organise the transfer from the airport to the hotel. Ideally, you should pick your guests up personally or, at the very least, be there to welcome them on arrival at the hotel. This demonstrates your high esteem and sincere hospitality from the very beginning.
There is no need to observe the otherwise strict Polish hierarchies when assigning rooms at the hotel. You may book the same room category for all guests.
Apart from business meetings, your Polish guests will expect to take part in a leisure programme that includes evenings and weekends. Your home city is sure to offer a number of sights and cultural or sporting events, such as a trip to a football stadium, that will interest your guests. In any case, you should allow enough time to go shopping so that your visitors can buy souvenirs and presents.
It is imperative that you also remember to buy gifts for your Polish business partners. It is common practice in Poland for both the host and the guest to be given a present. Poland is renowned for its arts and crafts, particularly Polish pottery. With their typical peacock design, Bolesławiec ceramics are famous the world over. In return, you are sure to please your Polish guests with a gift that reflects your region. Be careful with alcohol, however. Although Poland is known for its excellent vodka, your guests could easily misinterpret alcoholic gifts as a confirmation of the stereotype that alcohol flows liberally in their home country.
There is no obligation to extend a private invitation to your home. On a first visit, when you have never met, it may even be considered inappropriate. Nevertheless, should you wish to invite the Polish delegation to your home, you can be sure that it will be considered a great honour.
When dining together, you should always bear in mind that Poles will decline food and drink until it has been offered several times. Expect the conversation to go back and forth, perhaps as follows:
“Would you like some more soup?” – “No thank you. That’s very kind.”
“Please have a second helping of soup.” – “No, really, thank you very much. I’m full.”
“Please, let me serve you a little more soup.” – “If you insist. Thank you, I would love some.”
It is considered impolite in Poland to accept straight away, let alone to help yourself. Saying a direct yes or no is usually avoided. Intonation plays an important role.
Topics of conversation
Whether they are at a business meeting or a guest in your home, Poles have little time for small talk about the weather or the traffic. They regard such casual chatting as merely superficial. You are advised to focus on a few specific topics when talking to your Polish business associates. Listen intently, show interest and ask questions. This is a much better method of getting Poles to open up than small talk. However, avoid political and historical topics wherever possible to ensure the exchange remains harmonious.
Family is always a safe topic of conversation. With Poland being predominantly Catholic, most people are married and family is the number one topic. Feel free to show photographs and reveal a little about yourself. Moreover, sport is a popular topic among men. Football is a national sport in Poland.