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When to greet strangers in Poland or not..


benszymanski 8 | 465  
31 Mar 2008 /  #1
It amuses me that when you go to a see a doctor in Poland and enter the waiting room, the custom is to say dzien dobry to everyone. I don't understand why - you don't know the people there nor probably do you care to...

Can anyone explain what this custom is about?

Conversely, out walking in the countryside on a lovely day yesterday, nobody said hello to anyone (at least not me!). When I said hello to people (as you might do out walking in the English countryside or in Germany) people looked suprised.
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
31 Mar 2008 /  #2
Can anyone explain what this custom is about?

yeah, I could give it a try, but I won't :)
These are small details, that don't require an Einstein to process, think and you'll find an answer, just think "outside of the box".
hu_man 6 | 131  
31 Mar 2008 /  #3
I would agree "Its nice to be nice"
paperscratcher - | 6  
31 Mar 2008 /  #4
Haha :) Yeah, funny - people not reacting to hello. Well, I like random acts of kindness, even so small. Hello ;)
JustysiaS 13 | 2,239  
31 Mar 2008 /  #5
Yeah it is interesting how in Poland you are expected to say dzień dobry to random people in a waiting room, but not to random people on the street, in a park etc. Since i've been here in UK i noticed British people tend to be more polite and friendly and they nearly always smile at you. Poles don't. I actually find it irritating sometimes when a bunch of blokes on their lunch break are standing on the street having a fag and say good morning to me when i'm walking o work. It's funny how they only say it to me though, not anyone else (maybe they like my accent when i say good morning ha ha)... And it still scares the hell outta me when i'm walking somewhere and it's late and dark, and someone walking their dog creeps up behind me and says good evening! i noticed that Polish people don't greet each other like that, not even when they go to the shop or to pay their bills. When i go to Poland and smile at shop assistants and say dziekuje, they look at me as if i was from a different planet!
OP benszymanski 8 | 465  
31 Mar 2008 /  #6
yeah, I could give it a try, but I won't :)
These are small details, that don't require an Einstein to process, think and you'll find an answer, just think "outside of the box".

Maybe my point wasn't clear - what I am getting at is how comes Poles say hello to each other specifically (and bizarrely to me) at the doctors, but apparently nowhere else.
polishcanuck 7 | 462  
31 Mar 2008 /  #7
In Poland, it's also customary to say "dzien dobry" to strangers when you're hiking in the mountains. Also i've noticed that people greet strangers/friends in this way in small villages.

But getting back to your question, i would think that poles don't say dzien dobry in the streets simply because there are too many people. Can you imagine saying hi to everyone you come across in a rynek? It's just impractical.

a bunch of blokes on their lunch break are standing on the street having a fag and say good morning to me when i'm walking o work.

Maybe they think you're attractive ... :)
Kattya  
31 Mar 2008 /  #8
n Poland, it's also customary to say "dzien dobry" to strangers when you're hiking in the mountains.

It's the same in the UK when you are walking somewhere rural etc or out walking your dog in open country or a large park. It's not peculiar to Poland.
osiol 55 | 3,921  
31 Mar 2008 /  #9
But some languages demand that you know if it has passed noon or not. If you were to wander across the border to Slovakia, according to one website I saw, you say 'Dobre rano' if it's before 8am. But this is Polish Forums, so you didn't need to know that... unless you're useless with maps.
Mufasa 19 | 357  
31 Mar 2008 /  #10
The 'tram faces' that look right through you on the street was one of the most difficult things for me to get used to, because in SA I smile at many people in the street and they smile back. In Warsaw, people look at you as if you are from a different planet, unless... they have little kids with them and you coo about the little kids. I've had such fun with this game on the street ;)

In the countryside I've found people more open than in Warsaw.

how comes Poles say hello to each other specifically (and bizarrely to me) at the doctors, but apparently nowhere else.

It was like this with me when I just moved from SA to Poland, but as my language use got a bit better (and people say my accent is very good) they started greeting me in the doctor's rooms and in the train as well.

I see you have a Polish surname, but ask questions about Polish culture? How does that work?
Seanus 15 | 19,674  
31 Mar 2008 /  #11
My landlord, despite months of training, still says 'Good Morning' to me at 9pm.

In the UK, we have a clearer separation between Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night (this one being flexible).

In Japan, there is the same, ohayo gozaimasu (ohayo generally to men), konnichi ha (wa), komban ha (wa) and oyasumi nasai (oyasumi generally to men). In Japan, u can say ohayo in place of konnichi ha (wa) when it is the first meeting of the day.

Just don't make the mistake I made, through tiredness I must confess, I said 'cześć' to an old woman that I didn't know. Hardly a blunder but incorrect according to manners
poncho - | 3  
31 Mar 2008 /  #12
where i live, in upstate ny, you almost always greet a person you see on the street, usually just saying "hi" or "how are you?" or just nodding to the person..when u enter a store or office youll say "good morning" ill admit i dont hear many people saying "good afternoon" and almost never "good evening" (unless at a restaurant) i think after noon people just switch to "how are you?"

from the time i spent at my grandmas in poland, near jaroslaw, in a tiny village people would always say "dzien dobry" or sometimes even "Szczesc Boze" the one thing that is different here is that in poland people always shake hands, even with people they dont know. Here alot of people dont shake hands as often, usually only when they are introduced to somebody. just my rambling thoughts.
plk123 8 | 4,142  
31 Mar 2008 /  #13
'Dobre rano'

dobri dien (or however that may go in slavic) will work too.
OP benszymanski 8 | 465  
1 Apr 2008 /  #14
I see you have a Polish surname, but ask questions about Polish culture? How does that work?

Ha ha. Well spotted. It's because my Grandfather was Polish. He came to London after WW2. Like my parents though I was born and raised in the UK. I have just found out that this means apparently I am 'Polish' too.
Kowalski 7 | 621  
1 Apr 2008 /  #15
Dzien Dobry is rather personal greeting so we use it toward individuals or small groups we know something about and are in similar situation (waiting for doctor, on holiday, etc). Total strangers we know nothing about are ignored.
isthatu 3 | 1,164  
1 Apr 2008 /  #16
I just throw dozens of Czesc 's around all day,some give you funny looks others appreciate the gesture.I rather Imagine its the same the world over.
Newbie 2 | 11  
1 Apr 2008 /  #17
Hmm in that case I suppose my experiance so far -all of 1 week :) (!) has been an anomaly.
I found that when I smiled, people smiled right back and sometimes (men only) when I said Dzien Dobry, for helping out with somthing, would even wink and nod their heads.

I really have found people, in general, to be very nice. Today I was given a "survival Guide to Poland" by a gentlemen we had met just last week. He thought that since me and my husband were keen on learning the language, this would be a good start. I was really touched!
RockyMason 19 | 250  
1 Apr 2008 /  #18
Most of the polish people i have met say that poles love americans and are almost always polite to us when we are abroad. Im taking a trip there in a year or so and im gonna test that ;). I am sure they are better than most other places in europe though. The english and french were pricks to me when i was abroad!
SouthOfDaThames - | 87  
1 Apr 2008 /  #19
dobri dien (or however that may go in slavic) will work too.

Dobry den :)

Maybe they think you're attractive ... :)

No, that cannot be possible ;) :D
LondonChick 31 | 1,133  
1 Apr 2008 /  #20
The english and french were pricks to me when i was abroad!

I wonder why....
RockyMason 19 | 250  
1 Apr 2008 /  #21
Hmmm well first I went to a rugby bar got smashed and some hooligan tried to cut in line in front of me at lilywhites. I was with a couple buddies of mine who all play rugby and were really drunk. When we wouldn't let the ****** cut in line he started cussing us out and threatening that his mates were waiting outside and they would kick our "american *****" asses. My friends and I aren't ur typical tourists who back down so when we walked outside and a few of his buddies were there we laid a beatdown on those stupid soccer pansies! =) Rugby kicks soccers ass! If the ****** hadn't been rude we wouldn't have had to do that! I was 16 at the time Im not stupid enough to do things like that now but it was an experience =D

In france I was told to go back to america because they don't like george bush there by a waiter at some crepe store! One of the girls i was with was also hit on by a bartender who denied her drinks b/c she wouldn't give him her phone number or take off her shirt!
Kilkline 1 | 689  
1 Apr 2008 /  #22
Hmmm well first I went to a rugby bar got smashed and some hooligan tried to cut in line in front of me at lilywhites.

These people are called chavs in England and are everywhere. Its just a shame you didnt kill them.

In france I was told to go back to america because they don't like george bush there by a waiter at some crepe store!

This is fairly typical. The French can be w@nkers who think that only the French have the right to use force unilaterally and illegally in foreign affairs and et a bit sniffy when anyone else exercises the same rights.
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
1 Apr 2008 /  #23
Maybe my point wasn't clear - what I am getting at is how comes Poles say hello to each other specifically (and bizarrely to me) at the doctors, but apparently nowhere else.

No, it was clear, and I hope you didn't think of my reply as a rude one, I just wanted to say that every nation (or local population) has tradition and customs that differ and you can't be desparate about understanding it all at once. It will come with time, or you simply need to be a little more open-minded than normally to see there's nothing strange. Just because something is not the way you are used to. For example (from a thread about strangest things in Poland) - some people saying a washing machine in the bathroom (which is a better, more suitable place for it) is strange, for me (and my logic) a washing machine in the kitchen is actually much more unusual, but strange? Hell, no. I'd start thinking it's bizarre if it was placed in the living room :)

And I don't have the answers you need, but for example greeting the other patiants in a doctor's waiting room, could be drawn from the fact that they are your fellow brothers in misery (you are or are afraid of being ill, it's always some kind of misery), so you feel more empathic towards them, hence you become closer. This is just a try, I'm not even sure if it's the real reason.

While greeting complete strangers in the streets of a big city is rather completely useless, because you probably never talk with them (or even meet them again).
Zgubiony 15 | 1,553  
1 Apr 2008 /  #24
what I am getting at is how comes Poles say hello to each other specifically (and bizarrely to me) at the doctors, but apparently nowhere else.

What's so strange about saying hello or good day? We do it here in the US...when I go to the dr, enter a store or walking by someone in teh mtns....it's called being friendly.
isthatu 3 | 1,164  
1 Apr 2008 /  #25
Hmmm well first I went to a rugby bar got smashed

Theres your first mistake...drunks the world over have a habit of being tossers......
I have found the Poles in Poland are generaly really freindly to ANY foreignor who makes an effort,though,paranoid/oversensative Americans please dont read n....When flying back from Warsaw I found my bags to be a good 30 kilos over the weight limit,the girl at the check in told me I would have to "pay 10 Dollars per kilo" ,I looked at her lost,explained as I was British I dont carry many Dollars and she just smilled,and said ok ,no charge,have a nice flight...:)
Buddy 7 | 167  
1 Apr 2008 /  #26
RockyMason:
The english and french were pricks to me when i was abroad!

Thats ******* unlucky....

RockyMason:
Hmmm well first I went to a rugby bar got smashed and some hooligan tried to cut in line in front of me at lilywhites.

ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.....

Dude you kill me.... and the bit about France and T-shirts and Tits......
Seriously I'd hit the old bong with you you crack me up....funny, funny guy..
{I'm choking....cough..hahahahahaha}
Marcus911 3 | 102  
3 Apr 2008 /  #27
Hmmm well first I went to a rugby bar got smashed and some hooligan tried to cut in line in front of me at lilywhites.

This guy must have been a Soccer supporter, probably Millwall. I have been going t Rugby Clubs for years and everyone is there just to see the game and enjoy a drink and a laugh afterwards... you were very unlucky.
RockyMason 19 | 250  
3 Apr 2008 /  #28
It wasn't the rugby bar. It was at a sports store called lilywhites in london. It was across the street from the rugby bar or like right near it. The rugby bar was called the Cambridge or something like that. Yah rugby players get their energy out on the field. Also most rugby players r more upper class and college educated!
louie  
11 Aug 2009 /  #29
Thinking a little bit about this and in Portugal [and i believe in the majority of South] is the same.
In small towns (where people tend to know eachother better and stress is not a big issue) people cumpliment eachothers as they pass by in the street and it's funny that tourists tend to follow the same principles after being greeted a few times... =)

At waiting rooms (usually small rooms) and since all people aren't actually in a hurry to go somewhere (they have to wait...right?) people tend to be polite and greet eachother as an "ice breaking" aproach (by cultural influence).

At large cities (where people have shorter time for everything and more stress), at large stores it doesn't make sense to greet everyone as you pass by, or you'd get without voice when you reach the place you want (Try to greet everyone in a shopping mall =P ).

Since i lived in Poland also for a few time (and i'm going back soon), i must agree about some strange behaviours (different from North to South, Big cities like Warsaw,Krakow,£odź and smaller towns , social classes, age).

Maybe you should think about bigger picture , think about social context and visit some more smaller towns, appart and i promise you... you'd get a different view and maybe get even more confused!

RockyMason: I didn't had that experience in France.
I can imagine something in the lines of a joke i already saw.
Someone aproaches the bartender and says "give me a drink" , well people tend to use the give sentence in sense of "Free" in some languages, so some people making a joke would say "No, i won't! Only if you giive me your number!!!". Ofcourse in some languages and cultural context it would be seen as a joke, but there are jokes that get lost in translation and then misunderstood.

I know of a few situations i had experienced that some expressions can't EVER be used as literal as in your own language or you'd be asking for troubles without knowing it!
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,594  
11 Aug 2009 /  #30
As far as I see Polish people never greet each other in the streets if they don't know each other. And Poles never smile to someone they don't know.

But there are a few exceptions from this "ignore all strangers". For example in waiting rooms and on trains. If you enter a coupe most people greet. And when they leave the coupe/train 'do widzenia' is very common.

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