Intending to conduct new business in Poland? We offer the following business etiquette tips to help smooth the way:
a) Companies in Poland tend to have a hierarchical structure, with decision-making coming from the very top. Initial meetings are treated as introductions to see whether you are considered trustworthy and may well be held with a middle manager rather than someone of senior rank. It is expected that gifts of high quality but not too expensive will be given at this initial meeting (as well as upon conclusion of any business arrangement). An unbranded corporate gift, chocolates, wine or a souvenir from your own country would be considered as appropriate.
b) Business is conducted very slowly in Poland, so be prepared to have a lot of patience and do not get ruffled by the strict adherence to protocol. Expect some small talk and getting-to-know-you type of conversations before business is discussed. Whilst Poles are known for being straight talkers, they still try to be diplomatic about their opinions in order not to offend their business partners. Lengthy silences for contemplation are not uncommon in meetings.
c) Always be punctual, as this is taken very seriously by your Polish colleagues. When greeting someone, use a firm handshake and direct eye contact. Continue to maintain direct eye contact when speaking and ensure that your presentations are clear, accurate and detailed, and your claims backed up with charts, facts and figures. Be aware that bargaining is not commonly used as a negotiation strategy.