Polish behavioural style as a carousel – once still and another time very dynamic


The question is not easy to answer as…

Poland is situated geographically between Berlin and Moscow, and mentally between West and East. Our geopolitical location has always influenced Polish way of thinking and behaviour. In a number of publications on cross-cultural communication and management, Polish character is described as „Polish duality of thinking and behaviour”. That is why, for foreigners working in Poland or negotiating with Poles is not easy for first glance to get an idea how are Poles:

  • You can ask yourself questions – are they?
  • Friendly or indifferent?
  • Open or intolerant?
  • Easy going or stubborn?
  • Direct or indirect in communication?
  • Egalitarian or hierarchical?
  • Formal or informal?
  • Prefer working individually or in a team

The answer on above questions is – “both” or “it depends on the situation”.


In Richard Lewis cultural model of 3 types of cultures – presented as a triangle of 3 types of cultures:

1/ Linear  – represented by Germanic cultures,

2/ Reactive – represented be Confucian cultures and

3/ Multiactive  – represented by Latin America, Arab and African countries, Poland lies in the middle between Linear and Multiactive cultures. (R.Lewis’ model at crossculture.com).


This means that Poles express behaviours typical for those two types of cultures – yet we can switch easily from one type of behaviour to another up to a situation and express behaviour, which is more convenient for us. This capability is called flexibility and it is welcomed in work environment, but for foreigners may cause a difficulty to decode us.


Lack of knowledge of Polish pattern of thinking and behaving may be especially confusing and misleading in negotiation, when knowing a counterpart may be a precondition of a success or a failure.


Negotiating with Poles


Poles regarding behavioural patterns of negotiation in following aspects:

–    risk taking:  from one side they take a high risk  but from another one they seeking certainty  and like negotiating all in small details

  • disagreeing: they avoid direct and explicit communication but when situation develop in their disadvantage they make be very confrontational in an emotional manner
  • trusting: they build trust to others relationship based  (what need a time) but still seek prompt results
  • structures: Poles may treat other in a very hierarchical way in official situations but during in unofficial ones be very jovial and friendly.


To sum up, working with Poles, who are flexible and have double pattern of behaviour can be a challenge as long as you do not know how to find a clue to Poles and empathize with us.


When interested to get more knowledge and experience how to work & negotiate with Poles and in Poland, contact me.


Wiola Malota

Wiola is cross-cultural business expert, global leadership Coach and Mentor, speaker and world traveller (30 + countries)