English language levels tend to be very high in Poland – especially amongst the younger, well-educated elite.
In addition, many hundreds of thousands of Poles have worked outside their native country since Poland’s accession to the EU (giving them the opportunity to live and work abroad.) It would be rare for a visiting business person to need the services of a translator these days.
Poles are direct communicators, believing that it is better to express opinions directly, rather than hiding the truth behind diplomacy or coded language. This directness can seem excessive to people who believe that it is better to speak more indirectly in order to avoid hurting people’s feelings. It is important to remember that the more direct somebody is to you in Poland, the more respectful of you they are being.
As has already been stated, there tends to be very little visual or verbal feedback during meetings in Poland. People listen silently and with little obvious body language being displayed. This does not, however, mean that the listener is disinterested or does not understand – it is merely a cultural characteristic which Poles share with, amongst others, the Russians and the Japanese.
Poles will tend to wait and think before responding to a point made to them – do not be impatient. Allow Poles the time and space needed to take part fully in the conversation.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Poland. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Poland and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: