Ask the specialist: Why are the Poles so formal?

I was asked this question during one of my recent follow up meetings with a British client named Michael: Why are the Poles so formal? Perhaps they do not trust me? Michael assumed that this was the case, but in the end it wasn’t, which costs a lot of time to find out and repair. What can you do in the future?

More reserverd
The Poles are generally more formal and reserved at the first meeting than other nations. When I was studying at University of Chester I was astonished when a professor of employment law was allowing students to address him per “you” or “Phil” which would be impossible back in Poland where you had to refer lecturers in a very formal manner.

In initial business contacts Polish people address each other quite formally as they use the person’s courtesy titles like Pan [Mr], Pani [Mrs] followed by a surname or first name. Usually, after two or three meetings, the use of first names is welcomed. Do not worry if this is not the case. Some people are just accustomed to using titles and do this routinely.

Formality is used to respect status
I suggest you use “Ty” [ You – informal ] with family, friends and children. However, use the formal “Pan”and “Pani” with everyone else.
The most difficult thing with this approach is to figure out who is a friend and who is not. The Polish word for “friend” describes a more intimate relationship than in other cultures.

Don’t assume that just because your Polish contact uses less formal language to address you gives you permission to use it to address him, especially if they’re older than you. Polish society is quite hierarchical and formality is used to respect status. Therefore, think of it this way – you have to call the King “Your Majesty”, but he can call you whatever he likes.

To sum up
In professional situations, the Poles are polite and formal, requiring the use of formal forms of address and certain forms of etiquette which should be respected for a first meeting. Do you want to learn more? Take a look at our courses or in specific our countrycourse about Poland

In the beginning they appear quite distant but if you are kind and open, relationships soon become warmer.


About the author: Wojciech Kolodziejczak

Wojciech’s mission is to promote cross-cultural networking and to educate professionals that building strong business relations can help them grow their careers, businesses and personal lives.

He is a business trainer specialised in cross-cultural communication, networking, and negotiation skills for British, Polish, and other international businesses. He is also a visiting lecturer on cross-cultural networking skills for the Federation of Small Businesses, London Metropolitan University and other organisations.

More info about Wojciech: www.lifenetworker.com

 

Christmas around the world – Celebrate something new

 

 

Six most remarkable Christmas traditions 

While Christmas may have begun solely as a Christian holiday, and is often still celebrated as such, people from all over the world have embraced the festive season and added their own traditions along the way. Smiley snowmen, lush christmas trees and Santa Claus still reign supreme. But if you look close enough you will discover some very different takes on December’s most famous day.

 

1. Japan: KFC Christmas dinner

Back in 1974, the American fast-food restaurant KFC released a festive marketing campaign in Japan. The seemingly simple slogan “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) spawned a national tradition that still thrives to this day. Although Christmas is not even a national holiday in Japan, families from all over the country head to their local KFC for a special Christmas Eve meal.
Learn more: Country course Japan 

2. Venezuela: Roller Skate Mass

On Christmas morning city dwellers of the Venezuelan capital of Caravas make their way to mass on roller skates. This unique tradition is so popular that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church in safety, before heading home for the less-than-traditional Christmas dinner of ‘tamales’ (a wrap made out of cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat, then steamed).

3. Germany: Pickle in the Tree

The Christmas tree tradition embraced around the world today is believed to have started in Germany back in the 16th Century, so it comes as no surprise that they still have some funny customs relating to the festive trees. One of these is to hide a pickle somewhere within the branches of the tree, and give a gift to whichever child in the household finds it.

Some claim that the tradition may not be German after-all. One legend says that the Christmas pickle originated in Spain when two young boys were held as prisoners inside a pickle barrel. Saint Nicholas rescued the boys and brought them back to life. Either way, a pickle on the Christmas tree is a tradition we can totally get behind. Learn more: Country course Germany  

4. Canada: The mailbox of Santa Claus

Did you know that Santa Claus has his own postal address? His mailbox is in Canada and if you write him a letter before December 16, you will get one back. In more than thirty possible languages, including Braille. Send your letter to Santa Claus, North Pole H0H 0H0, Canada. It’s free and you do not need a stamp, because Santa Claus is just great. Just like the postcode of the North Pole.

5. Norway: Flying Witches and brooms

In Norway, brooms and mops are hidden during Christmas. Not because people do not feel like cleaning up, but because the Norwegians are a little superstitious. The tradition dates back to the days when people thought that witches and evil spirits would come through the chimney during Christmas. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to prevent them from being stolen for a ‘joyride’.

6. Russia: 12-course dinner

The Orthodox Church follows the Julian Calendar for religious holidays, so Christmas is celebrated in Russia on January 7. Many people fast until Christmas dinner arrives. It is only when the first stars appear in the sky on Christmas Eve that food can be eaten again. And not just: a 12-course dinner, meant to honor the 12 apostles.
Learn more: Country course Russia


About our Country courses

Doing business and/or working in an international environment not only requires expertise but above all the ability to adapt. Especially as each country has a different way of thinking about hierarchy, showing emotions during business discussions, time management and the need, or not, to reach consensus.

Bridge cultural differences
Insight in your own cultural profile is the startingpoint of our trainings. 

The Akteos Country – and Cultural Awareness courses will help you to be succesful in an international setting and communicate effectively, have successful meetings and negotiations with your new business partners. 

Dutch business culture – Anecdotes from outside the fishbowl

An important step towards becoming a competent player in the international work environment is having a good understanding about one’s own culture. Like water to a fish, the influence of our own culture is often invisible to us. Getting an outsider’s perspective can help exploring the waters we swim in and learning more about our own cultural baggage. [Read more…]

How to act in unfamiliar situations

Wednesday 16 May 2018

The France Chamber of Commerce in Sweden, the CCFS, welcomed Anne Marie van Schaik (accountmanager) and Fanny Spruytte (consultant) from Akteos. Akteos offers intercultural training courses to improve your communication and business skills. We help companies to be successful in an international setting. The focus during this 2-hours introduction workshop was on recognizing cultural similarities and differences (intercultural training).

Insight into Swedish and French (business) culture
Fanny Spruytte also introduced the Nomad’ network to a group of our members. This cultural profiler is an unique learning tool developed by Akteos experts based on 10 cultural dimensions. It helps you discover your communication and working style and other (culturally) determined preferences. It also allows you to compare your profile with other cultures: by comparing your profile you will become aware of the common denominators and cultural gaps. Fanny demonstrated this with the help of witty videos, pictures and real-life cases. Everybody felt addressed and recognised the similarities and differences between the Swedish and French (business) culture. This succesfull workshop came to an end with a glass of champagne. Read more 

Try our Nomad’ (cultural) Profiler yourself
All you have to do is ask for a demo.

Contact
Our training programmes are geared towards your specific needs. Please feel free to contact Anne Marie, accountmanager at Akteos: +31 (0)88 02 88 090 | annemarie.vanschaik@akteos.nl

Webinar – Working Successfully in Virtual Teams

Enhance your business performance across countries, time zones and cultures!

In today’s business world, it is more the rule than the exception to be part of at least one team that is dispersed across continents. Without the option to easily connect during so-called watercooler moments or build trust based on face-to-face meetings, greater efforts are needed to achieve real teamwork in virtual (remote) teams. Challenges are augmented by cultural differences in communication styles and working practices which can increase misunderstandings and cause a loss of efficiency. This webinar helps you to become aware of the unique challenges that virtual teams face and aims to support both managers and team members with tools to improve overall team performance. [Read more…]