How to Do Business in Ireland
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Irish are interested in people and place great value on
the individual. They are naturally courteous, quick-witted
and will go out of their way to welcome visitors to their
country. Don’t rush the Irish. Although they work
very hard, the Irish are dedicated to a less stressful lifestyle
that allows time for friends and family, a visit to the
pub, a cup of tea, or just a bit of a chat on the corner.
Families are closely-knit and very important to the Irish.
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present–men,
women and children–at a business or social gathering.
Shake hands again when leaving.
- A firm handshake with eye contact is
- The Irish are not very physically demonstrative
and are not comfortable with public displays of affection.
- The Irish are uncomfortable with loud,
aggressive, and arrogant behavior.
- A “Reverse V for victory”
gesture is considered obscene.
- Business is best initiated through a
well-connected third party. Who you know may be vital
to your business success.
- The Irish are not very time conscious
and may not be punctual for business and social meetings.
They have a relaxed sense of time and may be a little
late for meetings. However, a foreigner should be on time
for business meetings.
- Business cards are exchanged, but not
necessarily immediately upon meeting.
- Irish people tend to be creative and
calm in a crisis. They prefer to improvise rather than
follow a rigid plan.
- Outwardly the Irish accept authority
but inwardly have strong displeasure in accepting it.
They also dislike bureaucracy.
- Planning and strategy are short term.
Irish tend to be poor in long-range planning.
- Don’t be misled by the easy going
and amiable attitudes of the Irish. In negotiations, the
Irish are astute and tenacious.
- The golf course is a major venue for
conducting business in Ireland.
Dining and Entertainment
- Business entertainment is commonly conducted
- Business dinners are usually considered
more of a social occasion and a good way to develop relationships.
- Spouses may or may not be invited to
a business dinner.
- The small plate next to a dinner plate
is for peelings removed from boiled potatoes.
- It is polite to eat everything served
to you in a private home.
- Table manners are the same as in England,
only a bit more relaxed.
- Refusing a drink can be perceived as
insult in Ireland.
- Always buy your round of drinks.
- Dress modestly and conservatively. Flashy
colors and styles, white pants, nylon running jackets,
etc. do not blend into Irish style.
- Tweeds, wools and subdued colors are
- A raincoat is needed year around.
- For business meetings, men should wear
suits or sportcoats and ties; women should wear suits
or dresses and blazers (women wear pants less often than
- Gift giving and receiving is unusual
in a business setting. Small gifts may be exchanged, but
are not expected, at the successful conclusion of negotiations.
- When invited to someone’s home,
always bring a small gift for the hostess. Give flowers
(lilies are for religious occasions only; red and white
flowers symbolize death), chocolates, a bottle of wine
or continental cheeses.
- Do not give expensive or ostentatious
- The Irish respect reserved behavior.
Initial meetings should be low key.
- Assume that children will be included
in family entertaining.
- Send a thank-you note after receiving
a gift or being a dinner guest.
- Always be sincere. The Irish dislike
- Remember the Irish want to do things
their way. You will not succeed if you insist on doing
it “your way.”
Especially for Women
- A foreign woman will be accepted easily
in the Irish business community.
- The ‘Old Boys Club’ still
exists. Whom you know is vital to getting the job done.
- It is considered more proper for a woman
to order a glass of beer or stout rather than a pint.
- It is acceptable, but may be misconstrued
for a foreign woman to invite an Irishman to dinner. It
is best to stick with lunch.
- If a woman would like to pay for a meal,
she should state so at the outset.
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