Irish Worldview

Self-reliance and independent thinking, although strong sense of family abides

Brings out the best in people; produces innovation

Relationship Focused 
Personal interaction is valued and time is devoted to getting to know people

Class differences are minimized; democratic ideal

Tolerance for Ambiguity 
Comfortable with less structure and value creative approaches and risk taking

Balanced Universalism 
There are guidelines for how to go about things, but context is still considered

Fluid Time 
Punctuality is important, but there is more flexibility when it comes to personal interaction

Cultural Assumptions

  • Strong sense of history/heritage
  • Relatively traditional gender roles
  • Respect for authority of the Catholic church
  • Resentment toward historically English rule of the country
  • Enjoy spirited conversation and word play
  • Strong pub culture
  • Developing personal relationships is important to business
  • Hospitality and friendliness highly valued
  • Lingering pessimism over the difficult historical past

Traditional Irish Communication Style

Until one becomes part of the in-group, expect indirect communication. As masters of wit and artists of the spoken word, the Irish may tell you what you want to hear with only the most subtle hints that the reality may be different from the description.

High Context
Developing relationships is important to fully understanding the context of communications.

Casual forms of address and not much concern for face saving.

Emotional displays are more common. Communications are full of feeling and can also be exaggerated. Humor often self-deprecating is an essential part of most conversation, and self-aggrandizing comments can only invite disaster! 

Non-Verbal Dynamics

The handshake is a common greeting for both men and women. Hugs are uncommon, even with close friends.

There is not much touching in Irish culture, although that changes in both the pubs and at sporting events, when touching becomes casual.

Personal space is valued, so be sure to give associates and neighbors a few feet of distance when working and socializing. Again, this space narrows when in the pub.

Values in Tension

Due to recent spurts of economic growth and globalization, there are new tensions within Irish culture and its value system:

  • Increasing gap between rich and poor
  • Changing moral standards such as expression of sexual preferences and living together unmarried
  • A call for more gender equality and growing feminism
  • Increasing disparities between urban and rural living
  • Movement from a traditional orientation towards a future orientation

Business Practices

PROBLEM SOLVING Problems are approached directly and creatively, often in a collaborative context.
MOTIVATING PEOPLE Respecting and acknowledging people’s opinions. Treating people fairly, based on performance. Acknowledging the efforts of the group, not just individuals.
APPRAISING PERFORMANCE Formal, objective. Seek their involvement and be encouraging.
PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS Strong drive toward quality and innovation. Proud of “celtic tiger” economic status.
NEGOTIATING, PERSUADING There is an appreciation for personally getting to know prospective business partners. Time should be taken to foster a relationship. Hype and assertiveness are not admired in negotiations.
DECISION MAKING PROCESS Key decisions are usually made by senior executives, but after consulting with associates.
PARTICIPATION IN MEETINGS Meetings are more informal and time is taken to chat and catch up with colleagues.
Subordinates are not closely monitored and are given the opportunity to take initiative and pursue creative solutions.
HIRING Hiring and firing can be based on perceived loyalty. Does not necessarily involve performance considerations.
CUSTOMER RELATIONS Taking the time to get to know customers and socialize with them is valued.