Doing business in Poland will be slightly easier if you know a little something about the ways of the land. Schedule appointments a few days in advance, for any day but Sunday. February, June and July are popular vacation months so consider this when scheduling. Business hours are approximate to ones in America. Great times for scheduling meetings are from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. or from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Dress should be clean and conservative without shows of wealth. Smaller companies have accepted more of a casual work place appearance than some of the larger ones, but avoid bright colors and busy patterns. The same goes for women although a scarf of color or pattern, along with a demure suit, is fine. Use fragrances sparingly.
Handshakes are the normal way of initial introductions. Maintain eye contact and smile when being introduced. In some countries doing so would be a breach of etiquette but not in Poland. After a meeting it’s often standard to sit around and talk with the foreigner in hopes of getting to know him better.
Never sit with one ankle rested on the opposite knee and never stand with hands in pockets. Avoid conversations of politics and money. Follow the example of the associates as to how to address each other. If they call you by your first name, feel free to do the same. Initial introductions are usually title with first and last name.
Gifts are often given at initial business meetings and definitely upon the signing of contracts. At social invites you’re expected to bring a small gift or flowers. The next day, send a handwritten thank-you note. A nice gift selection would be something from your homeland but without your company logo.
Business cards and other paperwork can be printed in English. There is no need to print, on the reverse side, in another language. Business meetings often contain long pauses in conversation, whereby your counterparts may simply want to consider everything. Do not attempt to fill in every lull in conversation. Your company will gain more respect if there is more than one of you present for the negotiations, and particularly, if there is at least one middle-aged representative. In many European countries, age is given much respect.
Many business meetings are conducted during lunch but rarely breakfast. Supper time is usually reserved for family or romantic dining. Pub meetings are common practice particularly among the younger business people. If dining, wait for the host to taste his food before you begin eating. It is common place to toast before and/or after the meal. If your host stands so should you. Do not sit down again until the host does. Keep wrists above table during the meal. When finished eating place utensils next to each other, on the right side of the plate. Crossing utensils on the plate means you’re still eating.
In any situation you’re expected to show respect to older persons. If you’re in any crowded place, offer your seat to someone older than you. This will make a great impression. Do not do manual labor on Sundays.
In some countries a business person can be very nervous because etiquette and protocol are so strict. In Poland it’s okay to relax and be yourself, even joke, if the mood and time is appropriate. You’ll enjoy your stay the most if you make an attempt to learn a few basic Polish words before your trip and if you know your business to a tee.