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Ireland - Business Culture
The Irish enjoy lively debate and conversation, and will often discuss controversial topics such as religion and politics. It is advisable not to raise such subjects unless your host does. Note that the Catholic Church still has a strong influence, and be careful never to criticize the Irish or their country, as they are very proud. Families are close-knit here: many businesses are family-owned and nepotism is quite acceptable.
Meetings should be arranged a couple of weeks in advance, via the company's secretary. Usual office hours are 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. You should be punctual, although your hosts may turn up a little late.
The normal form of greeting is a firm handshake with good eye contact, and business cards are exchanged. The titles Mr, Mrs or Ms with family names should be used when first meeting, but it is common to move to first name terms very quickly. Business dress is conservative, consisting of suits and ties for men, and suits or modest dresses for women.
Meetings begin with small talk, and are fairly unstructured - the Irish seldom stick to an agenda. Preferred communication styles are direct: you should avoid exaggeration or aggressive sales techniques. Always remain modest about your own achievements, as the Irish don't like boasting, and prefer to judge people on their actions.
It is common practice to haggle over prices, and you should be prepared to compromise to secure a deal. Business culture is quite hierarchical, and if your meeting is with a sufficiently senior person they may reach a decision immediately; otherwise there may be a delay while they consult senior colleagues. It is not normal practice to give gifts in Irish business culture. If you are invited to a private home, take a small gift of flowers, chocolates or wine.
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