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FAE Around the World – Poland

How do you do business with…?

Partners from Poland

More and more is being outsourced or expanded. In today’s professional life, we experience multicultural heterogeneity in tandem with transnational codes of conduct. Despite being neighbours, we are very diverse in culture and tradition.

In the following we provide a summary of what to look for when a business contact comes from the country of Poland.


  • Make small talk to build a trusting and personal relationship
  • Talk about private things (family, hobbies) even with business contacts
  • Be polite, it is very important as well as hierarchy
  • Address with Mrs/Mr (pani/pan) and use the business partner’s title but the first name to build a close relationship
  • Use of the surname can be understood as distance building and devaluation
  • Indirect language is common, no clear „no“ as well („we will see“, „hard to say“, „maybe“)
  • Be sympathetic, modest and human, show weakness and be able to laugh at yourself
  • First impression counts

Behaviour in meetings and negotiations:

  • Meet directly with decision-makers in order to shorten the decision making process
  • Decisions are difficult to finalise because they have to be backed up from above
  • People from Poland deal openly with emotions (irritation, frustration, anger)
  • Be flexible and willing to compromise
  • Contracts can be interpreted more as an initial agreement than a fixture
  • Renegotiations are common
  • It is not a sign of disrespect to leave the room or take a phone call during a meeting
  • Be on time. If you are late, an explanation is expected

Dinner behaviour:

  • Do not refuse invitations, refusal would be understood as an end to the business relationship
  • Vodka is no longer a must, but tasting an offered food or drink is perceived more positively than refusing it
  • Wait until everyone has received their food before you start eating
  • Choose good wardrobe
  • Tips are expected
  • If invited home, be about 15 minutes late
  • Shake hands when you are insider the door, never over the door sill


  • Bring a gift, especially when invited to a private home
  • Confectionery or flowers for women, but no red roses, chrysanthemums, lilies or carnations
  • Give only odd number of flowers, even number brings bad luck
  • Acceptable gift for the gentleman of the house is e.g. liquor



  • Only discuss in private, if a discussion is necessary
  • Remember name day
  • Respect hierarchies
  • Greet the boss first
  • Accept appropriate hospitality offers
  • Know famous Polish personalities e.g. Kopernikus
  • Direct criticism
  • Talking topics such as religion, politics, world wars and the Polish stereotypes of stealing
  • Referring to Poland as Eastern Europe (Poland = Central Europe)
  • Asking for toilet (instead ask for where to wash hands)












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FAE Consulting, Frankfurt