Cultural tips: Ireland

Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with the Irish

  • Be as warm, friendly and hospitable, as they are
  • Show vision and use your imagination. Recognise their innovation and creativity. Prevent dealing only in cold facts. Ideas are infinitely more important to them than plain facts. They are among the more unconventional and independent spirits who resist structure and routine.
  • Tell lots of stories. Be folksy and poetic if you can.
  • Be humorous whenever you can. Charm and humour are generally evident throughout
  • Think in terms of beauty and aesthetics, emphasising simplicity
  • Accept occasional procrastination on their part while they look at new ways of approaching problems and tasks
  • Align yourself with their affinity for the abstract and the theoretical
  • Respect their history, Catholicism and sense of nationhood
  • Avoid calling them English or praising the English too much
  • Don’t use too much sarcasm, but accept their gentle irony
  • Avoid Snobbery or talking down to them. Betrayal of trust is a taboo
  • Meetings with Irish people are invariably warm and friendly, but sometimes confusing. They are not great agenda followers and digress enthusiastically when confronted with an interesting idea.
  • Opening sessions with Irish business people are without exception informal and congenial. Small talk of up to half an hour is expected, with some refreshment
  • Business is commenced casually in the English manner (even more relaxed)
  • First proposals are reasonable and tentative. Nothing is taken for granted
  • Irish people hasten to know the position of the other side. When they know it, they do their best to accommodate.
  • Compromise is regarded as a basis for solving disputes
  • Some ambiguity is cultivated, especially when difficulties are obvious
  • Where no deal is possible they try to leave the door open for further opportunities. They latch on to peripheral business if they can in cases where the central deal falls through
  • The Irish people are bons vivants who love good wholesome food and adequate amounts of alcohol. Manners at table and other social occasions are generally informal and flexible. Ireland is well-known for its pub culture. In pubs, which are essentially cosy and social centres for news, gossip, politics and cultural exchange, Irish people are known for their singing and story-telling.
  • Emigration is another feature of Irish life, especially to England and the United States, where Irish communities are sizeable.
  • They tend to be very sociable and have few hang-ups apart from their ambivalent attitude towards the English.