Poland is an ideal place in which to invest money and grow a business. Foreign investors keenly invest with their money in the country on the banks of Vistula. The majority of foreign capital backed start-ups have been registered in the regions of Masovian, Małopolska voivodeship and Lower Silesia. What does the business culture look like in Poland and what does one need to consider before negotiating a deal?
When it comes to business relations, Polish entrepreneurs are typically formal and professional, remaining a little reserved during the first few meetings. Usually however, they say what they mean and they cut to the chase right away. Characteristic of the business etiquette in Poland is to keep eye contact with the person talking and maintaining appropriate personal space (roughly two feet).
Poles often think that important business issues ought to be discussed personally and that frequent meetings and phone calls are very helpful in establishing business relationships. A written contracts is of the highest value to them and although it usually is proceeded by verbal arrangements, all agreements must be always finalised in writing.
The language is important
Poles are perceived as a nation of well educated, highly qualified and competent individuals. They adhere to rules and protocols – and they expect no less of their business partners. While Polish is the official language, Poles tend to speak English fairly well- they are communicative, if not fluent.
When preparing for negotiations with Polish entrepreneurs it worth learning a few basic words in Polish. That way you’ll be guaranteed to make a good impression on your partners.
The ability to speak foreign languages is a very desirable quality of the Polish jobs market – many employers expect it of their candidates already at the first stage of the recruitment process. This explains why often during business meetings with foreign partners rarely does one come across a language barrier. Negotiations are more often than not led in a foreign language, typically in English, German or Russian.
What’s your title?
Polish customs include the use of appropriate titles and salutations. Until one is asked to move to a first-name basis, one needs to address the business partner with titles such as “Pan” (Mr) or “Pani” (Ms/Mrs). Addressing one by just their surname is considered rude and disrespectful.
When talking to a superior, it is considered fitting to use their title when addressing them, for example “Panie dyrektorze/ Pani dyrektor” when talking to the director of the company, respectively male and female. Universities and medical companies aside, the use of one’s job or academic titles is not very common.
Negotiations: the Polish way
Poles prefer a calm and direct style of negotiations. They value honesty and the way the process of negotiations will affect the whole business relationship. The process itself may last a while. The reason behind it is the deep hierarchisation of the Polish companies and certain limitations set up by the government. This is why criticising or disagreeing with the superiors is considered unacceptable.
Managers typically are the decision-makers in the companies, although it is not unusual for them to delegate this responsibility to their juniors. More complicated issues are often consulted with broader teams in order to reach a consensus and a company-wide support for an important decision.