As a Dutch guy living in Poland I meet many foreigners who visit Poland for the first time. In my previous post I already mentioned that they are mostly positively surprised about the Polish beauty when they arrive here.
I would like to invite everybody to stay surprised. Especially when you plan to do business, but also as a tourist. You shouldn’t think everything abroad is the same like at home.
Enjoy the differences without any preoccupations. Try to understand why things are different instead of thinking things are bad or strange. Combine the best of both worlds.
What is normal?
While travelling around the world we meet many people. People who have different habbits, eat strange food, live and work under different circumstances. It is different from what we are used to back home and that’s why we call it ‘strange’. But you shouldn’t forget you are the stranger. The people you meet will treat you as ‘strange’. So, what’s normal? I would say they are and you will have to adjust.
Doing business in an international context needs adjustment
Recently I attended a meeting with a group of Dutch bankers. They had been travelling around Poland for about a week meeting with their Polish colleagues. During the meeting they mentioned several misunderstandings that wouldn’t have occurred with a bit more knowledge of the Polish culture.
Dutch people for example tend to plan everything and to them the plan is wholy. They live in the future, planning as much as possible beforehand.
Polish people are living now, more focussed on today’s challenges. For them the quality of the result is more important than the plan.
Both approaches have their (dis)advantages and I won’t say one is better than the other. Anyhow, the difference in between them is big and can lead to all kind of misunderstandings.
The Polish people in this example wanted to spend a lot of time together with their Dutch colleagues, mainly focussed on socializing, getting to know eachother better. For them this is important, first you become ‘friends’ then you do business. The Dutch planners forgot to plan time for that, not realizing the importance of it. Fortunately they were flexible and followed their hosts. After all they agreed they had a great time and made friends for life. For sure this will make the cooperation in the future a lot easier. There is mutual understanding.
Be surprised to meet all available opportunities
The above mentioned example is just one example, many others could be given as well. The bottom line is to be open for what is going to happen when you travel abroad. The best would be to be well prepared, being aware of the potential cultural differences.
Unfortunately, in today’s busy business life too often we do not take this time. We jump on the plane, our schedule fully filled. During the flight we still have to prepare for our meetings. After arrival we keep running, the taxi or driver is waiting.
If this is the case I advice you to slow down. Realize yourself that the people you meet will have a different mood, might have a different agenda and for sure will think different. Be surprised what will happen. Probably if you pay attention to this your trips will be way more successful.
Just realize that they are normal and your are strange!
I am curious what you think about this subject. Please share your opinion, experiences and tips below.