Final Blog: Observations
A recent project of mine was to create a country report for doing business in Poland. This was to follow the guidelines of the popular book series “Kiss, Bow, or Shake
Hands,” which gives country reports of over 60 countries. As my last blog,
I will share some of the interesting trends I have observed in my experience in
Poland which were included in this report. Enjoy!
When breaking the ice, most Americans will start with the questions “How are you?” This is very unusual in Poland for two main reasons. Firstly, the Polish believe that when
someone who they do not know personally is asking this question, it is more for
the absence of silence than for general and sincere care of how they are doing.
They see the gesture as automated. Secondly, as the poles most common
stereotype is the tendency to complain, the answer you may receive could
include a quite gloomy response.
Many Poles believe that the pressure in the air directly affects their mood; therefore, on days with low pressure, they should expect to be tired and unmotivated (they even
have weather forecasts specifically involving the air pressure). When asking
the question “how are you,” do not be surprised if the answer sounds somewhat
like “tired…the air pressure is low and I have had a headache all day.”
The drinking and driving tolerance in Poland is much stricter than that of the United States and must be considered when going out with colleagues. Poles are extremely
surprised at the amount foreigners are willing to drink before refraining from
getting behind the wheel. This is due to their country’s reduced tolerance. In
Poland, drinking less than a beer, less than one shot of vodka, and less than
one glass of wine will put you in jail and take your license from you.
Another aspect which comes as a surprise to Poles is the amount of time Americans consider ok to drive the next day. If a Pole drinks heavily the night before, they will
refrain from driving until the next day’s evening. It is in the best interest
of foreigners to do the same. It is extremely popular for police officers to
set up checking stations in the morning. This means they stop each car and have
the driver breathe into a breathalyzer at certain check points. These stations
are usually checking alcohol levels from about 8:00 AM until 11:00 AM.
When visiting Poland, take time to clean your shoes. Poles are very attentive to the cleanliness of the outer part of their shoes. If you have dirty shoes, you are very likely to
receive judgment from all generations. The same is for wrinkled clothes. Poles
usually reserve a day of the week to iron their week’s clothing.
Poles generally have a lot of superstitions. In addition to the typical black cat, breaking mirror and Friday the 13th, Poles have other situations to be superstitious about. These
superstitions can help in business when giving gifts, selling, advertising, and
general mannerism when visiting this country.
Even Amount of Flowers: If giving flowers to someone in Poland, be sure they are in an odd amount. Giving an even amount of flowers implies the passing of bad luck. This fear of odd numbers relates to more than just flowers. Be aware when giving gifts or selling items in which a quantity is involved.
Wallet Running Away: Women should never place their purses on the ground. It is believed that their wallets will run away, leaving them without any money. I have actually had store attendants warn me of this after setting my purse down to look at merchandise.
Corner of Table: If you are an unmarried woman, do not sit on the corner of a table. It is believed that a woman will never get married if she sits in that place at the table. Many
times, dinner has been stopped and I was requested to switch places with one of
Chimney Sweeper: If a chimney sweeper is seen (or, man with a top hat), you must hold onto a button and cannot release until you see someone with eye glasses. If you do not, bad luck will follow
If you would like to see the full report, feel free to ask 🙂