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Awkward Polish dinner party conversations with 'patriots' ...


Rogalski 5 | 94
2 Jan 2010 #1
So, you're a dinner guest at the relatives of a friend, and as you are a foreigner, you tend to be the centre of attention. All is going well and then the conversation turns to national comparisons and you're feeling kind of on the spot because there is obviously something else going on that just mere inquisitiveness. Of course, you get "patriots" in every country who get a kick out of proving how superior their country is to every other single nation on earth, but I have noticed it particularly in Poland where otherwise well-educated, middle-class people tend to engage with the "my tribe/gang/country/nation is better than your tribe/gang/country/nation" type of diatribe. Perhaps this is more common elsewhere than I have otherwise given credit (and as I type this I recall a couple of times English and Welsh friends nearly coming to blows over how terrible each other's respective country is!) and perhaps it's because I find myself in the position of being "The Other" that I am only now particularly noticing it, but does anyone have any experience/advice about handling this situation, other than imbibing the prolific glasses of vodka on offer and getting quietly sozzled??
Wroclaw Boy
2 Jan 2010 #2
but does anyone have any experience/advice about handling this situation,

Just take it with a pinch of salt.
JustysiaS 13 | 2,240
2 Jan 2010 #3
Depends on the company and who they are to you, but i wouldn't recommend getting into a full on arguement. If they go a bit too far just say honestly that their comments are not acceptable and that you are sat at a table with them to have a good time and a nice conversation, not to debate about who's better than who. If they carry on... who the hell do you hang out with?! Lol. When everybody's waiting anxiously for your answer to all the accusations they made, you can always sneeze loudly and say 'sorry i'm allergic to bullsh*t', get up and leave ;).
OP Rogalski 5 | 94
2 Jan 2010 #4
you can always sneeze loudly and say 'sorry i'm allergic to bullsh*t', get up and leave

LOL! Good one.

The trouble is, you can't always choose the relatives of your friends - I mean, if these comments were from people I called friends, I'll call them on it with seconds, and if they persisted ... do widzenia!
wildrover 98 | 4,451
2 Jan 2010 #5
There is a lot to be said for not giving a sh1t.... Most of the gatherings i have been to in Poland its usually been the other way round...Polish people moaning about Poland , and me as a Brit sticking up for it....
Honest George 1 | 105
2 Jan 2010 #6
When asked a question involving comparisons, the simple reply is to say " I,d rather not comment on that subject, so as not to cause offense ", and stick to it.

I have found that the Poles usually don,t pursue the topic as they don,t like being offended.
You can see this time and time again on this forum.
jonni 16 | 2,485
2 Jan 2010 #7
This really is the best thing to do. It works very well with people of above average intelligence who can grasp the point right away.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
2 Jan 2010 #8
advice about handling this situation

A punch in the mouth is worth a thousand words...
szarlotka 8 | 2,209
2 Jan 2010 #9
Just agree with them in everything they say.... Use lots of Cybil Fawlty type 'ooooo I knowwww' s

Nothing pisses off people who are spoiling for an argument more than agreeing totally with them.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
2 Jan 2010 #10
Use lots of Cybil Fawlty type 'ooooo I knowwww' s

Ha...better to use a Basil faulty..... Don,t mention the war..i did once but i think i got away with it....!
POLENGGGs 2 | 150
29 May 2010 #11
A punch in the mouth is worth a thousand words...

How has this method worked for you in a Polish setting in Poland? :-)
poland_
29 May 2010 #12
All is going well and then the conversation turns to national comparisons.

There is, they are trying to establish how well you know Poland and what can be gleamed from you. Polish people are very happy in the seat of asking questions, but do not like to be in position of being asked questions. You will start to understand if you have not already, when dealing with our hosts "knowledge is power"
POLENGGGs 2 | 150
29 May 2010 #13
Funny, cause most of them know about as much about their own country as the average user of this forum

.... and, that is why it can be problematic when you come across someone who tries to tell you lies and keep on saying its the truth
Seanus 15 | 19,706
29 May 2010 #14
I know what Rogalski is getting at here. Bear in mind that there is a certain type of 'patriot' everywhere that is just looking for a cause to latch onto. Us Scots can spot them a mile off. They tend to be insecure folk with shallow lives. Those tea-sipping morons with noses upturned, entering discussions that would bore the paint off of most walls.

As for the Polish equivalent of that, I just ignore them. I've actually taken to just sidestepping many questions. This isn't the Spanish Inquisition and I'm not gonna be at the centre of attention beyond my teaching duties. I'm no object of fascination and am most certainly not here for anyone's amusement.

I'm comfortable with who I am and can appreciate the good things in Poland. However, I don't overstate them and I see them for what they are. Many of the good things here, God and foreigners gave, not Poles :)
poland_
29 May 2010 #15
The vast majority of Poles I meet are well informed on both history and politics in Poland. I guess your experience will always reflect the level of society you mix in.

As for the Polish equivalent of that, I just ignore them.

"A" political is always best stance when a guest in any country.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
29 May 2010 #16
Yes, they are well-versed in history and politics but anyone can discuss the issues of the day with varying vigour. It doesn't give them any higher standing in the overall scheme of things! Those into fruitful job creation are the ones that thrive!

I completely agree, warszawski. Politics is a no-no for me. Besides, Polish politics is like watching potatoes grow.
poland_
29 May 2010 #17
Those into fruitful job creation are the ones that thrive!

Good quote.
f stop 25 | 2,513
29 May 2010 #18
What I do in these situations, is not argrue generalities, but steer the discussion to particulars like policies, events, situations. Even the biggest 'patriots' know that not EVERYTHING is better in Poland. If you wisely conceed some points, they will start conceeding some too, and before you know it they'll be back to the usual kwetching about everything.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
29 May 2010 #19
The "yeah okey whatever" method is usually the fastest to make them change subject.
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544
30 May 2010 #20
Most of the gatherings i have been to in Poland its usually been the other way round...

Ohh but just for once agree with them and BOOM! ;)
Seanus 15 | 19,706
30 May 2010 #21
SzwedwPolsce for standby Mod :) The man has a great head on his shoulders. He always has the most practical and sensible lines and is a credit to good schooling and humanity! Regarding his statement here, simplicity is genius!
pawian 163 | 10,370
16 Oct 2019 #22
"my tribe/gang/country/nation is better than your tribe/gang/country/nation" type of diatribe.

That is a piece of cake compared to the family table discussions which Poles of different political views have. E.g., PiS and anti PiS. Then the temperature may rise substantially and the whole occasion is ruined coz people insult each other mercilessly and remain offended for years. .
Lyzko 25 | 7,437
16 Oct 2019 #23
Simply avoid anything politically controversial, particularly as a foreigner!

Discuss the unsurpassed natural beauty of the Tatry, Zakopane, world famous Poles, the music of Chopin aka Szopen, and the heroism of her Ruch Uporu during the Big One, cuisine etc., and you should do just fine
RubasznyRumcajs 5 | 477
17 Oct 2019 #24
Someone should have been awarded with the Golden Shovel for digging up old threads
Lyzko 25 | 7,437
17 Oct 2019 #25
Or the perennial Golden Pitchfork for shoveling the most manure:-)


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