Life & work
This super-important aspect of your business relation is not something you can omit. The inviting party is the one making sure their partner gets the message that the meeting is going to happen – oral invitations are less reliable and less formal than written ones. Why is it so important? The inviting party is the one who pays the bill – if you plan your business meal together, you are probably going to split the bill (remember to decide on it in advance), but otherwise prepare to cover the costs.
Business meals in Poland can take place either in a company’s office or in a restaurant chosen by the inviting party. Both options are common but entail different things. While a meeting in the office building usually means lighter food such as salads, sandwiches, cakes or fruit, a restaurant business meeting calls for more regional cuisine and your Polish partner probably wants you to have a good go at trying some specialties.
Typical Polish meal consists of some kind of a soup and a main dish with meat. If the restaurant has such options in the menu, go for it. It will not be a faux pas if you ask your business partner for advice about choosing something characteristic for the country or its region. In fact, you are very likely to get bonus points for taking interest in Polish culinary achievements!
While in some countries it is preferable to start the discussion early on during the meeting, Polish businessmen prefer to eat their food first and make small talk. They may want to know your impression of Poland and be curious about some personal experience, but they are unlikely to touch upon deep topics such as religion or politics. The real purpose of the meeting is usually revealed towards the dessert – it is then when your business partners may indicate the subject change. It is common practice to discuss your business plans after you have your coffee and cake and the table is cleared by the staff.
A Polish business lunch does not always finish with the signing of a contract. Sometimes you will have discussed all its aspects in detail before scheduling another, more formal, meeting devoted solely to this activity. Therefore, closing the deal with a firm and honest handshake is often taken as a promise of cooperation to come. Giving your word is enough for Polish people to feel ensured that the goal of the meeting has been achieved and everything went smoothly.
Remember these rules and your business lunches shall be as successful as your whole career in Poland. Bon apetit – or as we say it in Poland – smacznego!