Cultural translation tips – business trip Poland
27th August 2019
Travelling the world is one of our favourite experiences. It doesn’t only broaden your horizons, make you appreciate other cultures but also creates memories of a lifetime.
Whether you are travelling for pleasure or business, you should always do some research and read about local habits, culture and learn a few basic words of the host country’s language.
If you are planning on visiting Poland next, there are a few things you should know about the Polish history and culture. Whether you are travelling for a business meeting, want to see the vibrant main square in Krakow, explore the colourful Royal Way and relax on the beach in Gdansk or visit the Old Town in Warsaw, read a few tips from Monika, our Polish member of staff.
Places to stay and spending money
If you don’t fancy staying in a hotel, check out Airbnb or Booking.com. Both sites offer a variety of modern well equipped apartments in great locations.
The currency in Poland is the zloty. I always find it’s better to take some Pounds with me though and exchange them in Poland at one of the currency exchange shops. They may ask you for ID so take your passport with you. The British driving licence is not a form of ID in Poland.
Nearly all of the restaurants accept credit and debit cards, so if you don’t want to take cash, you will be fine too.
Meeting and Greeting
- Polish people greet with a firm hand shake and direct eye contact.
Dzien Dobry – means morning and Good Afternoon
Dobry Wieczor – means Good Evening.
- You should use a prefix Pan (male) or Pani (female) plus surname when addressing someone you don’t know well. If you know a person a little bit, you could get away with using the first name instead of a surname, for example Pani Monika.
Generally, the style of business meetings is formal. However, it does depend on who the meeting is with. I would recommend speaking to your colleagues prior to the meeting to establish the correct tone of the meeting.
You would greet the attendees with a hand shake on arrival and shake their hand again on leaving. I would advise against using first names, unless it’s made clear you can. Some may find it offensive.
Negotiations and business language used will be formal and to the point. Poles value honestly, and they will say what they think, but in a diplomatic manner. If any numbers are to be discussed, have the figures and facts at the ready.
Polish people like speaking foreign languages and will make an effort to speak to you in English to make you feel welcome. The final outcome of the meeting should be well understood by all parts and put into writing, in both languages.
If you want to give out business cards, it’s best you translate them into Polish. They should include your job title and contact details. Sometimes also the highest qualification attained, such as a university degree, is added.
Meetings over lunch or dinner are a great way of improving personal relationships. Once you’ve got to know your colleagues more, the tone of meetings will become more relaxed. Dining out is not something you should be concerned about. The meeting organisers will pick the venue, book it and pay for the meal. Dress smart and formal.
If in doubt over the menu choices, the host may make a few suggestions. Usually, the guests start eating once the host has said Smacznego (bon appétit). A traditional Polish meal starts with soup (zupa), followed by a main course served with boiled potatoes or dumplings. Pickles and sauerkraut are popular side dishes. Dessert options will often include ice cream, cheesecake, apple pie and “makowiec”, a poppy-seed cake.
It is common for most businesses to close on religious holidays – they are considered to be national holidays in Poland. It’s worth considering that, just like in the UK, a lot of businesses will close early the day before the Bank Holiday.
1st January – New Year
6th January – Epiphany (Święto Trzech Króli)
March or April – Easter – same dates as the UK
1st May – Labour Day (Święto Pracy)
3rd May – Constitution Day (Święto Konstytucji 3 Maja)
20th May – Whit Sunday (Zielone Swiatki)
31st May – Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało)
15th August – Assumption Day
1st November – All Saints Day
11th November – Independence Day
25-26th December – Christmas
We hope this article gave you some food for thought and, if you need any of your meeting materials translated into Polish, please complete the free quote and we will get back to you within 20 Minutes, as promised.