Excerpted from the Ireland Career Guide
The Irish are known for being hospitable and friendly, and value pleasant, relaxed, direct, modest and unpretentious behavior. They dislike arrogance, officiousness or self-importance, and are uncomfortable with loud or aggressive behavior in the business setting and elsewhere. They also tend to avoid personal confrontation. Drawing attention to one’s academic qualifications or personal achievements is generally disliked. While compliments are accepted, excessive praise can raise suspicions.
The normal business greeting in Ireland, regardless of gender, is a handshake. However, the Irish can be quite demonstrative depending on the occasion and the relationship. Their day-to-day greetings can differ, even between friends, ranging from a hug and a single kiss on the cheek to a simple ‘Hi’ with no physical contact. When shaking hands, it is normal to look directly at the other person and maintain comfortable eye contact throughout the greeting and any conversation. Consistent eye contact shows one is interested in the conversation; avoiding it may give the impression that one is untrustworthy.
If you want to act like a local
- If a napkin/serviette is supplied, it is normal to place it on the lap – in high quality restaurants this may be done by the waiter who will also pour drinks and replenish beverages.
- There may be as many as eight to ten dining utensils to a place setting – simply work from the outside in.
- If a course is skipped, skip a set of utensils, although the waiter will more than likely remove these before serving the next course.
Business dress may be informal, although a dark-colored suit is still the typical office attire for business professionals. More relaxed, smart casual attire is acceptable depending on the profession and the organization. Foreigners should (at least initially) dress more formally, and it is recommended they do so to maintain their credibility.
Decisions in the Irish business culture are usually made democratically, and while senior-level managers are normally the key decision makers in large organizations, employees' opinions are sought and considered before a final determination is made.
Generally, the Irish are comfortable with risk taking, although perhaps more so with short-term risks. Deadlines and making a profit are the main concerns in the business culture.
Conducting a Meeting or Giving a Presentation
Meetings are generally short and to the point. As building rapport is important in the Irish culture, it is common to engage in social conversation (i.e. ‘small talk’) prior to a meeting, often over refreshments of tea, coffee, fruit juice, biscuits (cookies), scones or pastries. Bottled or jugged water will normally be available during the meeting. While some business meetings can be quite informal, one can expect most to be well structured, with minutes taken, and to follow an agreed-upon agenda.
The Irish appreciate direct and plain communication and will take what is said literally. They also appreciate directness in all business dealings, including negotiations. However, they tend to avoid personal confrontation and find it difficult to say ‘no.’ Generally, if they don't say ‘yes’ right away, they usually mean ‘no.’ ‘Hard-sell’ and other aggressive sales techniques are generally disliked. Loud, aggressive, or arrogant behavior should be avoided. Boasts or inflated claims about an individual’s or a company’s accomplishments or products will not be well received. Modesty is preferred and a person, company, or product will be judged on past successes.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Ireland Guide.