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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Poland only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.