Do's and Don'ts in Poland

Poland Etiquette Tips

Flying to Poland? From dress to table manners and business customs, it's important to learn about Poland's etiquette while visiting their country. Poland is full of interesting history and culture, so remember to be respectful of that. Below is a list of Polish etiquette for your next trip.

1. Dress Attire

  1. DO dress conservatively. In business situations, men should wear conservative suits and ties. Women should wear conservative dresses or suits. Bright colors are not appropriate, so instead opt for colors such as black, gray, dark blue, etc.
  2. DON'T wear t-shirts, shorts, sneakers, or sweats.
  3. DON'T overdo it with perfume, aftershave, or cologne.

2. Table Manners

  1. DO try a little bit of everything, but take small helpings so you can later accept seconds.
  2. DO expect lots of toasts. Toasts are made with hard alcohol and should be swallowed in just one gulp. The host gives the first toast and you should reciprocate later in the meal. Maintain eye contact while toasting.
  3. DON'T begin eating until the host does.
  4. DO indicate that you are done eating by putting the fork and knife parallel across the right side of the plate.
  5. DO indicate that you are still eating by crossing the knife and fork on your plate.

3. Tipping

  1. DON'T tip in restaurants. A 10% service charge will be included on the bill.
  2. DO tip cab drivers 10%.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DON'T give anything pricey.
  2. DON'T give yellow chrysanthemums, as they are used for funerals. Red or white flowers should be avoided, too.
  3. DO give flowers in odd numbers.
  4. DO open a gift upon receipt.

5. Greetings

  1. DO shake hands upon meeting someone and again upon departing. Don't forget to maintain eye contact and smile!
  2. DO greet people upon entering or exiting an elevator.

6. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO arrive about 15 minutes late. By arriving 15 minutes late, it gives the hosts some extra time to prepare, but don't arrive more than 15 minutes late, as that would be rude.
  2. DO check to see if your hosts are wearing slippers. If so, you may have to remove your shoes. Make sure your socks don't have holes beforehand.
  3. DO bring flowers or wine and a handwritten thank you note.

7. Business Meeting

  1. DO get one side of your business card translated to Polish. Include any advanced academic degrees that you may have.
  2. DON'T move to a first name basis until invited to do so.
  3. DON'T kiss a woman's hand upon greeting. Older Polish businessmen may do so, but it might be offensive if you do.
  4. DO be direct in communications.
  5. DO engage in small talk. The first few meetings might not include much business discussion at all.
  6. DON'T be late!
  7. DON'T put your hands in your pockets or sit with an ankle resting on the other knee. Both are considered poor etiquette.
  8. DO be prepared with facts and figures to back up anything you say.
  9. DO be patient. Business decision-making can go through many levels of a company's hierarchy before a decision is made.

8. Socializing and Conversation

  1. DON'T bring up the Holocaust or World War II.
  2. DON'T discuss Polish-Russian, Polish-German, or Polish-Austrian relations or Poland's geographical borders. It can be a very touchy subject.

Although Poland might seem more formal that you may be used to, you will find that Poles are very friendly people. Most importantly, be friendly back to them, be polite, and act and dress conservatively. Enjoy your trip to Poland!

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