Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Learning the Business Customs of Ireland


In Ireland, doing business tends to be less formal and friendlier than in many other European countries.

Upon greeting, everyone is expected to shake hands with one another, and retain a smile. Business people are comfortable using their first names instead of formalities, even right after introductions. Business cards will usually be exchanged after introductions, but require no formal gestures.

During meetings, the Irish will often use their linguistic eloquence, where they speak poetically and tell personal stories. They will usually pay attention to how people present their speech, as it is representative of personality. Irish people tend to be modest and humble, and do not think highly of pretentious people who brag about themselves. Present any professional or academic accomplishments mildly, and never act condescending. Those who act with an arrogant attitude will probably be teased, and politeness is also highly regarded. Despite the general relaxed attitudes, a hierarchy does exist, and bosses do expect to be treated with respect, even if they are casual and charming.

Meetings in Ireland do not follow a formal routine, and do not stick to a rigid agenda. Some of them follow a standard procedure, but most are very casual and relaxed. While beer is casual with business occasions, be aware that smoking is illegal in offices or other such institutions. Golf courses are popular places in Ireland to conduct business. If you are making an appointment for a business meeting, avoid most of July and August, when there are a number of national holidays. It is not necessary to plan meetings long in advance, as the Irish do not always operate by long term commitments. You should arrive on time for business meetings, even if your Irish business partners do not.


You should listen very carefully to what people are saying, because there could be different implications beyond the surface of their speech. For instance, if someone has a silent stall before agreeing to something, it probably implies “no.” The Gaelic language does not have words for “yes” or “no,” so there is a lot of indirect communication that can be quite confusing to foreigners. Short answers are rare, and even foreigners should refrain from responding with them. In business meetings, you should also hold back from talking about politics or religion, and not act sarcastic.


One thought on “Learning the Business Customs of Ireland

  1. Good post, although I think you’ll find Irish businesspeople less laid-back than this. The traditional self-perception of Irish people as relaxed is changing as the country becomes more corporate. It all depends where you’re coming from.

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