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Negociation and partnerships with the Poles


It is advisable to respect some kind of formalism during the negotiation. Arriving early at an appointment, with if possible information translated into Polish, produces a positive effect. It is also recommended to conform to the Polish business practices. They abundantly use titles (doctor, engineer) and practise generous distributions of visit cards.

Poles are at ease in the discussions centered on business, but they also wish to converse on more general topics and will be sensitive to the marks of attention towards themselves and towards their country. A effective way is to ntroduce during a professional presentation questions allowing to evoke topics whose Poles are proud: Jean-Paul II, Chopin, gastronomy, the sport, the beauty of the country... On the contrary, some subjects such as antisemitism or religion should be avoided.

The Poles are aware that they lag behind the Westerners and it is not necessary to recall what a partnership might bring to them. In the same way, the Poles are wary to arguments showing any supposed superiority, especially when it is by denigrating the competitors.

The decision-making is based on elements which are not always rational. The personal relations that one maintains with his or her counterpart play a role sometimes more significant than the offer itself. It is necessary to maintain good relations with ones Polish partners, and if possible friendly relations. The French are for this reason favoured compared to the majority of their competitors, in particular German, but not compared to the Americans, who remain the reference. Gifts, especially when they are typical products (food, clothing) are appreciated, but not at the first meeting. The invitation abroad for a visit of a factory could carry the decision, but it is better to extend the invitation to the family of the partner and to envisage a visit of the surroundings.

The know-how and the will of the Poles for establishing partnerships with foreign companies remain limited. It is recommended to act quickly and in a professional way because Polish companies are often coveted and because their executive do not have scruples turning to competitors.

On the contrary to what could occur at the beginning of the years 1990, the Poles respect a certain ethics in business and show more and more reliability. This is now the Poles that reproach the French or the Italians for not respecting the terms of payment.

Granting payment credit to customers is risky but inevitable, very few being willing to accept a pre-payment. Though difficult to obtain and sometimes inaccurate, the company ratings are necessary.

Of oral culture, the Poles are not very inclined to drafting the contracts, but contracts are essential to the practice of business in Poland. Taking into account the high number and vague character of the Polish laws, the drafting of a contract requires the intervention of a local lawyer. The use of too many anglo-saxon terms should be avoided, because those are not always known and may not have the same meaning in Poland and in your home country.

It is not always easy to make an appointment with a Polish decision maker. Personal contacts and recommendations highly facilitate the conduct of business. A direct contact is initially strongly recommended. The Poles appreciate a face-to-face meeting to clarify the business connections and to concretize them. It should be noted that women are considered as equal as men regarding business.

The appointments can be taken as soon as eight o'clock in the morning, but not after 4 PM, except for a dinner. The business dinner is more popular than the lunch, because the Poles take only a short pause for noon. Meals are often sprinkled with vodka, which can involve some consequences on the process of negotiation.

The service of an interpret, if possible familiar with the terminology of the sector, is recommended. However in Warsaw business is more and more often realized in English and even sometimes in German or in French.

Poles are traditionally not familiar with negotiating and bargaining, but they are not bad negotiators. They readily affirm their convictions and do not necessarily seek a consensus. They often position themselves as a "country in transition", in order to obtain low prices.

The decision-making processes are generally long and they imply many people. In the same way, a yes or a no is often not final. Things are however changing with the new generation, much more at ease in the business world.


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