Polish Business Etiquette



Witamy w Polsce! ("Welcome to Poland!" in Polish)

Poland, better known as the Republic of Poland, has a very long history fraught with its fair share of struggle, heartbreak, and triumph. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in September 1939 was invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  Over six million Polish citizens perished during WWII. However, despite all of this, Poland persevered, and in 1989 established itself a democracy.

Poland has produced some great minds, such as composer Frederic Chopin, physicist Marie Curie, and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.  The nation has also long championed historical and art preservation. It is a culturally rich nation of proud, strong citizens.

Before you take a business trip to Poland, let’s first learn about the dos and don’ts of Polish business etiquette

The Lowdown

  • The capital of Poland is Warsaw, which is also the country’s largest city.
  • The official language of Poland is Polish, and about 94% of the population identifies ethnically as Polish.
  • Poland is a parliamentary republic.
  • Poland is 95%
  • Poland started embracing the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement after joining the European Union. As a result, the country has shut down many factories which were harming the environment. Many Polish companies have green initiatives.

Dressing Sharp

  • First impressions are important in Poland, so it is imperative to look polished and professional for business meetings (especially if you are a manager or executive).
  • Men should wear dark suits with tie and jacket.
  • Women should wear dark suits (either pantsuits or skirts).
  • Each company will have its own dress code, and some businesses have implemented a casual Friday. It is best to ask your Polish host about their specific dress code.

Make or Break Meetings 

  • Punctuality is extremely important in Poland and it can be a real “deal-breaker” if you are late for meetings.
  • Greet the Polish party with a strong handshake and eye contact to assert confidence.
  • Business cards should be exchanged at the first meeting.
  • Address each person in the room if you are having a meeting with a large group of people.
  • Poland is more formal and hierarchical than other cultures, so until you are told otherwise, you should address the Polish party as either “Pan” (Mr.) or “Pani” (Mrs.).
  • Meetings are most often held from 10-12 pm and 2-4 pm.

Dining Decorum 

  • Most commonly, business meals will be held at a local restaurant at either lunch time or dinner time.
  • Unlike in many other countries, it is acceptable to discuss business matters once the meal begins. If a decision is reached during a business meal, it should be honored.
  • Before eating begins, your Polish host may say “smacznego,” which means roughly the same as “bon appetite.”
  • Meals often have several courses – a soup course, followed by meat and potatoes (or perhaps sauerkraut), and dessert.
  • Vodka and beer are often served, especially in celebration.
  • Make sure to bring cash to the restaurant if you are paying, as not all restaurants accept credit cards

Down to Business 

  • Polish business people are straight shooters and can be very direct in their negotiations.
  • The Polish party will expect and appreciate a well-organized and thoughtful presentation. They make business decisions based both on fact but also on “gut feelings” about the other party.
  • Business decisions are made hierarchically, and it will be made obvious to you when the Polish party has come to a final decision in negotiations.

Now that you’re well prepared for your next jet-setting business trip to Poland, don’t forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb!

 Do Widzenia! (“Goodbye!” in Polish)