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Curious about differences Polish people see with the British?


jon357 63 | 14,121
2 Oct 2014  #31
Maybe people over 35 would be able to find Poland on the map but the younger generation wouldn't even know where to look.

I think they would. And don't forget that there are plenty of Poles of whatever age who couldn't find Manchester or Edinburgh on a map.

[quote=L777]They have done all that from the generosity of their spirit, kindness and to uphold values of tolerance, equality and a fair play, so close to the heart of the British nation. [quote]

More, guest poster, because it was becoming a distraction and a burden, though yes, there were altruistic reasons and a sense of fair play - some of the late Nineteenth Century campaigners for home rule in the colonies certainly had that at the front of their minds, and when Gandhi toured the northern cities back in the 30s, more than a million people came out to cheer him on. But I doubt that fits your way of thinking. As for equality, tell us when Poland abolished serfdom...

How this relates to what newly arrived Polish migrants to the UK make of their new home I don't know. Now you wouldn't just be trolling, would you?
Szalawa 3 | 248
2 Oct 2014  #32
Most know far more about it than you think, despite the relative paucity of cultural output compared to it's neighbours.

Very nice to include biased bigotry in your statement. As an educated person would know, culture is not something that people can have more or less of, its not ascribed as something one is lacking, but how it plays its role in its own society.

You probably don't realise that the UK got rid of the colonies over several decades as part of a deliberate process.

Oh so you mean they finally evolved a conscience? That empire built on slavery collapsed and that is about it. I came across a article today about child slaves in the U.K during the industrial revolution, very nice. Could you say, a product of English culture?

delicious chaos.

Rather odd choice of words here.
10iwonka10 - | 396
2 Oct 2014  #33
They have done all that from the generosity of their spirit, kindness and to uphold values of tolerance, equality and a fair play, so close to the heart of the British nation.
hook, line and sinker

Ha,Ha-I thought the same :-)

'deliberate process'- time changed and they had no choice as occupied countries wanted to be free.
jon357 63 | 14,121
2 Oct 2014  #34
culture is not something that people can have more or less of,

It is however something a group can have a greater or lesser output of. Notice the word output in the sentence you tried to understand.

Oh so you mean they finally evolved a conscience? That empire built on slavery collapsed and that is about it. I came across a article today about child slaves in the U.K during the industrial revolution, very nice. Could you say, a product of English culture?

Not a historian either, are you...
CasualObserver
2 Oct 2014  #35
L777, I think you exemplify the point I was making.

But why should British people need to be able to find Poland on a map? Only 6000 of them live there (that's less than a typical crowd at a football game), and Poland is not a major global military power, not a major global ecomonic power, not a major global cultural power, and is of global strategic importance to NATO primarily as a buffer against Russia and fulcrum of European powerbases. That's not denigrating Poland in any way, but it does explain why most (I'd guess maybe more than half) of Britons couldn't find it on a map - they don't need to, they don't migrate there and it's about as significant to them as the Isle of Wight is to Polish people (and how many Poles could find that on a map?!).

But you seem very bitter about Britain, and typify the tone of other Poles that I have met. I think that's a shame, because it would be good to have a more rounded view of the world. And Britons are fully aware of the downsides of Empire - but didn't Poland have an Empire once anyway? And how did she lose it, through a charitable mood?
L777
2 Oct 2014  #36
But why should British people need to be able to find Poland on a map?

No need at all.
There is no reason for them to " think they helped the Poles a huge amount and are owed some thanks" - either.

the Isle of Wight is to Polish people (and how many Poles could find that on a map?!).

More than you think. At least they would know where to look.

But you seem very bitter about Britain,

I assure you I'm not bitter at all. I'm being sarcastic, seeing Polish historical opinions and myths being presented as unreasonable as if in contrast to reasonable British opinions and .....myths about history.
CasualObserver
2 Oct 2014  #37
L777, again, you're exemplifying my point - I did not say that either interpretation was right or wrong, I actually said that both opinions fail to see the other's. But I do think that Poles can be much more aggressive in their opinion on this. I have had virtual strangers offer up their historical interpretations to me, as if I should somehow show contrition for stuff that happened before I was born. For many Brits this probably seems quite a bit like historical revisionism. But quite a few Poles I have met seem to have quite a chip on their shoulder about it, and seem to think that Brits like me 'should be told' about this opinion, whether we ask for it or not. And it can come across as rather rude, either when you;re subjected to it ina Polish bar (when it can seem quite intimidating), or subjected to it in a British pub (when it's often just downright rude). Differing opinions are one thing, but so is cultural sensitivity, and works both ways.
10iwonka10 - | 396
2 Oct 2014  #38
Polish bar or English pub...you gave strange example of place for historical/political discussion- do you try to say that polish are rude there but british to contrary behave there like real gentlemen ;-) ?

I general it is is cultural difference- many europeans ( not only polish) can be blunt, direct maybe appearing rude at expressing their opinions ( especially after few drinks) BUT English for a change can be sarcastic , laugh off everything and you don't really know their opinion about anything. It is nothing wrong with sense of humor and some distance to themselves but some people can find it fake....
jon357 63 | 14,121
3 Oct 2014  #39
It's too much of a generalisation to say that Poles are this or Brits are that - not everybody's the same. I do think though that if you smile at a stranger in either country, in one of them you're more likely to get a smile back than in the other.
L777
3 Oct 2014  #40
L777, again, you're exemplifying my point

CasualObserver, I respectfully disagree with you here, rather than I exemplifying your point it is you who is trying to stick on me prearranged label.

But I do think that Poles can be much more aggressive in their opinion on this.

Indeed, cultural differences. Direct approach pretty standard in Poland is being seen as aggressive or rude behaviour. In the same way that a pretty neutral qestion about someone religious believes is seen as extremely rude and inappropriate question in Japan.

But quite a few Poles I have met seem to have quite a chip on their shoulder about it,

Germans seem to think the same about British and their views in regard to the world war II.
A word to the wise, for the western Europe the war ended 70 years ago for the eastern Europe the war ended 20 years ago.
CasualObserver
3 Oct 2014  #41
L777, I accept what you're saying about cultural differences, but there does seem to be a double-standfard operating here. It seems fine to Poles for them to characterise the generalised British viewpoint as 'Imperial arrogance' (look just how quickly several Poles answered on thsi thread in terms of Empire and military aggression), but to them it's 'insensitive' for British not to recognise that 'the war ended only 20 years ago' and 'that's just how Poles assert themselves'. So what seems to be said is that British should come round more to the Polish way of thinking, and Poles basically have the moral high ground? Thats eems to be the message I'm getting from you here. Whereas I would suggest that for especially those Poles living in the UK or visiting, they could perhaps operate some 'cultural sensitivity' of their own, and not be so assertive about this. Like I said, it can come across as quite rude and intimidating to others. And in any situation between any two people anywhere in the world, if offence is taken then it is generally the fault of the giver than the taker (for not taking the trouble to know or think about it). From my experience, it is generally Poles who start this type of conversation with Brits (maybe because it's still more 'current' for them), and not the other way round.

I think we can probably consider what germans and Japanese think as unrepresentative 'outliers' in this kind of discussion! They would think that, wouldn't they?!

btw, I was not trying to label you, it was just that your strong and very critical reaction (and that of 10iwonka10) illustrated what i was talking about - I mentioned differences of opinion in fairly neutral terms, and immediately the old cliche/insult of Britain as the 'aggressive Imperialist' was trotted out. But I'll ask again, wasn't Poland once an aggressive Imperialist herself, a little further back in time? Perhaps it's convenient for some to forget that?!
L777
4 Oct 2014  #42
CasualObserver I don't know what you are looking here for or what do you expect. I know nothing about " a double-standfard operating here", people react to posts in any which way they like regardless of their nationality.

So what seems to be said is that British should come round more to the Polish way of thinking, and Poles basically have the moral high ground?

I can speak only for myself and can assure you that I honesty don't care what the British are thinking about history. I wouldn't bother anyone with my views nor would I drag them into conversion about history against their will.

Whereas I would suggest that for especially those Poles living in the UK or visiting, they could perhaps operate some 'cultural sensitivity' of their own, and not be so assertive about this.

So in other words you are telling them to keep their mouth shut. I agree with you on that, provided they will not be greeted with "we went to war for Poland" or "we were defending you against Hitler and you should be grateful" as it can be rightly considered provocation.

From my experience, it is generally Poles who start this type of conversation with Brits (maybe because it's still more 'current' for them), and not the other way round.

You mean to say you have been accosted by the multitude of Poles many times, who were forcing their views about history down your throat? If you are certain you haven't encouraged them to do so in any way, I must agree with you, it is not a very nice of them and they shouldn't do that.

"the old cliche/insult of Britain as the 'aggressive Imperialist' was trotted out."
Why on Earth would you think I used it as an insult? I was merely pointing out that since Napoleonic war Britain never had been forced to go to war. It was always their choice and their own reasons and their own interests. The same can be said about the world war II.

I mean to say that Britain didn't declare war on Germany to defend Poland but because she wanted to declare war against Germany for her own reasons. I meant no offence.

(By the way, many British people are very proud of their Empire).

wasn't Poland once an aggressive Imperialist herself,

As a matter of fact - no.
CasualObserver
4 Oct 2014  #43
L777, I suppose I just expect (or would prefer) some reciprocal cultural insights, interest in differing viewpoints, and some civility if one disagrees. As I said, many Britons are under the impression that we're 'historical special friends' with Poland due to WW2, whereas Poles are often quite strident in the opinion that we're not. Cultural sensitivity could help there - and more objectivity perhaps. And yes, this year at least, I really have had three people begin that conversation and state their opinion in strong terms, like being jabbed with a verbal finger in the chest. I get the impression some people are keen to have the opportunity (and I'm no British Imperialist wearing a Union Jack waistcoat).

I suppose I'd also make the case for Poles taking more trouble to find out about and understand British historical perspectives and attitudes, especially if migrating there, as I get the impression that many have a narrow or limited view of the UK (blame the Commies, I suppose). I had a conversation with a group of well-educated Poles of varying ages, earlier this year, when this subject came up, and they were totally surprised to hear of the Marshall Plan and that Britain was essentially bankrupted by WW2 and lost virtually everything (including quite a few destroyed cities), that food rationing continued until the mid 1950s, and bomb damage existed in some places until the 1980s. I think they thought maybe it was like Las Vegas from 1945 onwards ;)

I don't think British are 'very proud' of the Empire period at all - it's very mixed feelings, and for the last 50 years the education system and mainstream culture has played down the 'glory' and played up the 'problems' and victims. See films like 'Ghandi', 'Zulu', 'The Wind That Blows the Barley', for instance. You will struggle to find any British film celebrating Empire from the last 50 years.

Polish Empire - 14-15th Centuries, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Seas, yes?

Just to add, L777, that I am quite capable of seeing your point of view on this subject, and can see why you would think that (although I do think it's a very narrow and somewhat inaccurate interpretation that doesn't consider the wider context). But I have yet to meet a Pole (and I think I can add you to this list?) who seems capable of accepting any validity in the general British view. As someone said above, you seem to think it;s just a propaganda myth that we arrogantly delude ourselves with, rather than it might actually have some merit as a valid point of view. Naturally, the truth lies somewhere inbetween, but i do feel that the avergae Briton is more likely to budge towards that centre-ground than the average Pole ;)
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2014  #44
As I said, many Britons are under the impression that we're 'historical special friends' with Poland due to WW2, whereas Poles are often quite strident in the opinion that we're not.

CasualObserver, I think you're wrong. I would say Poles have a special affection for the UK due to it's role during the World War II. Since the fall of France the Polish government-in-exile was based in London and Great Britain was the only country where Poles could find safe haven and continue to fight Nazi Germany (since I wouldn't call the Soviet Union an exactly "safe haven", if you know what I mean). So there is definitely a positive sentiment.

That doesn't mean, however, that those same Poles who recognise Britain's role and have this positive sentiment won't mention "the Western betrayal" or "the Phoney War". Those are elements of the same reality and not two realities that exclude each other :)

I suppose I'd also make the case for Poles taking more trouble to find out about and understand British historical perspectives and attitudes, especially if migrating there, as I get the impression that many have a narrow or limited view of the UK

Oh, the same can be said about the British (or Westerners in general) migrating to Poland :)

(blame the Commies, I suppose). I had a conversation with a group of well-educated Poles of varying ages, earlier this year, when this subject came up, and they were totally surprised to hear of the Marshall Plan and that Britain was essentially bankrupted by WW2 and lost virtually everything (including quite a few destroyed cities), that food rationing continued until the mid 1950s, and bomb damage existed in some places until the 1980s. I think they thought maybe it was like Las Vegas from 1945 onwards ;)

I think the Marshall Plan is a rather basic knowledge, although maybe it's mainly talked about in reference to Germany. Poland didn't take part in the Marshall Plan so perhaps there isn't (or wasn't) much focus on it at history classes. Probably just some general info.

As for Britain's situation probably most people (average Poles) know some basic facts, like that the UK was bombed by the Nazis, that there was Battle of Britain (and that Poles took part in it), that Chamberlain sucked ass and Churchill was cool, stuff like that :)

It's the same with average British people and their knowledge about what was going on in Poland during and after the war, I can imagine. I suspect they know even less than Poles about the UK. For an average British person it's most likely something in the lines of "The World War II started when Hitler attacked Poland and... and... Oh! I know! Auschwitz was in Poland, wasn't it?" And that's probably it ;)

But I have yet to meet a Pole (and I think I can add you to this list?) who seems capable of accepting any validity in the general British view. As someone said above, you seem to think it;s just a propaganda myth that we arrogantly delude ourselves with, rather than it might actually have some merit as a valid point of view.

What is this "general British view" and "propaganda myth" that you're talking about? I'm sorry, I just didn't get it from the discussion in this thread.

Naturally, the truth lies somewhere inbetween, but i do feel that the avergae Briton is more likely to budge towards that centre-ground than the average Pole ;)

To be honest, I doubt that you've discussed with enough Poles to be able to say what an average Pole is more likely to do or not ;)

I've discussed history with people of different nationalities and observed discussions of others and I've noticed that every country has it's own point of view, their own bias in looking at history, their own myths, justifications, etc. etc. And sometimes quite shocking misconceptions, like, for example, one Scot who suggested here on these very forums that Hitler decided to build death camps (or concentration camps in general, I don't remember) in Poland because... Poles were so anti-Semitic.

Of course, I would say that the way history was taught in communistic countries (and even more so in the Soviet Union) had very particular flaws but I have an impression that Westerners aren't free from bias when looking at their own history (or history of other countries) and sometimes their view of historical events can be pretty skewed.

I think that it also depends on what's your attitude to Poles/Poland/Polish history, as L777 mentioned. If you're going to be friendly a Pole will probably start talking about the Battle of Britain and what great brothers in arms we were or something of this sort lol But if you come across as a jerk he may start with "the Western betrayal", etc.

It also depends on the Pole too, naturally - some people can be objective, others - not really.
There's also another factor to all of this, I suspect. You've mentioned that you had three people begin such conversation. I think it may be also partly due to the strain that Polish immigration to the UK brought onto Polish-British relations. Poles think (I'm generalising here, of course) that the British view them as a threat to their jobs, a nuisance and that they look down on Poles (and Poland). It doesn't generate warm feelings, I can imagine, and thus, maybe, such sharp reactions. Of course I'm just guessing here, but the English did lose the most from all the nationalities in the latest CBOS poll (the number of people who like the English went down from 47% to 43% and those who dislike the English gained 5% - now it's 20%), so they did "lose out" more on the whole despite the fact that the Russians got the biggest fall in the "like" percentage. Data from CBOS poll nr 20/2014 "The Attitudes of Poles to Other Nations":

Ranking the most popular of nations once again opens the Czechs, every second Pole (50% of the declarations of sympathy) has a positive attitude towards them, behind them the Italians (48%), Slovaks (47%), Hispanic (46%), Irish (46% ). The least liked are Gypsies (55% declaration of aversion) and Romanian (45%).

cbos.pl/SPISKOM.POL/2014/K_020_14.PDF
However, English people are still in the top 10 of Poles' most favourite nationalities (on the 9th place, I think - in 2012 they were on 4th place).
Szalawa 3 | 248
4 Oct 2014  #45
I think you're wrong. I would say Poles have a special affection for the UK due to it's role during the World War II.

I would say it varies on individual opinions, some like it others hate it, as you mention later on in your post. Nothing special I say.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2014  #46
Well, I'm writing this from a perspective of a person who lived all her life in Poland. I would say that generally there is a positive attitude to the UK in Poland, although maybe it's not as positive as it used to be and I don't know to what extent historical reasons matter nowadays. I guess one can argue how "special" this affection is :) But Poles usually claim they have a special affection for Hungarians due to historical reasons and, indeed, our Hungarian "brothers" got the same percentage as the English. 43% Poles like them.
CasualObserver
4 Oct 2014  #47
Paulina, thanks for an extensive reply. Obviously, I can only comment on my own experiences, but this subject (and attitudes to discussing it) is definitely one of the 'differences' I have noticed between Poles and Brits, mixing with graduate-academic Poles of varying ages.
Ziemowit 12 | 3,399
4 Oct 2014  #48
wasn't Poland once an aggressive Imperialist herself, a little further back in time? Perhaps it's convenient for some to forget that?!

As a matter of fact - no.

Polish Empire - 14-15th Centuries, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Seas, yes?

I don't think blaming the British (or any other nation) for having an empire is correct. The expantionist tendencies seem to be immanent to human nature, now and then they take on different forms and are present today, but no longer in the form of territorial take-over (except, for example, Putin taking over the Crimea, but this again under the pretext of the will of the local people who wanted to join motherland Russia). That was the political "state-of-the art" of former times and nothing of different nature was imaginable then. We can only condemn it from today's point of view which was not known to our ancestors.

As far as Poland is concerned, she was not an "agressive imperialist" herself in the 14-15th centuries as the lands stretching to the Black Sea were not at all conquered by Poland. The Crown of Poland for several centuries was a union state with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which in reality was more Ruthenian than Lithuanian. From the very beginning of the historical process of unifying, the gentry of both states were granted equal proportional representation in parliament, irrespective of religion (Catholic or Orthodox). The unique title of "prince" was left to the magnates of the Grand Duchy in the Act of the Union of Lublin in 1569 (it had not been used in the Crown where all gentry were supposed to be "equal"), The monarch held the title of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania and the initial ruling house originally came from the Grand Duchy (Jagiellonian dynasty). Later on the sovereigns were elected by Parliament which was common to both union states and was called into Warszawa in the once independent Duchy of Mazovia that existed between the Crown and the Grand Duchy rather than was called to Kraków or Vilnius, the capitals of respective union states. The ever moving eastern frontier changed shape due to the rivalry between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Moscow (the city of Smolensk was a good example of that rivalry; after the final capturing it by Moscow nearly all members of the ruling Ruthenian-Lithuanian elite left the city for Vilnius). It was not until the 3rd May Constitution of 1791, four years before the final collapse of the Commonwealth, that the freely elected Parliament of Both Nations declared themseves from then on a "unitary and inseparable country" and adopted its new official name "Polish Commonwealth" (Rzeczpospolita Polska), granting however that taxes collected in formers parts of it should be spent in those respective parts only.

If that means Poland had once been an "agressive and imperialistic state", I would very much doubt.

Please stick to the topic.
L777
5 Oct 2014  #49
This thread is about differences Polish people see with the British. If you would like to talk about the war and Polish point of view it would advisable to start a new thread.

There are always people regardless of their nationality who are not interested in the past. It would be hardly fair expecting that all Poles acquire historical knowledge about British history quite exceeding that of the general British public.

But I have yet to meet a Pole (and I think I can add you to this list?) who seems capable of accepting any validity in the general British view

That mighty good of you CasualObserver. I'm quite capable of seeing British point of view, pragmatism of their foreign policy before and during the war. The only thing I'm not accepting is the war propaganda, particularly about Britain declaring the war on Germany in defence of Poland.
Wroclaw Boy
10 Oct 2014  #50
there are more bigots and racists in the north.

thats the truth.
Gdyniaguy14 - | 22
14 Oct 2014  #51
I assure you I'm not bitter at all. I'm being sarcastic, seeing Polish historical opinions and myths being presented as unreasonable as if in contrast to reasonable British opinions and .....myths about history.

To be honest, the Majority of British don't care about Poland. Most British either think Poles are hard workers or an expensive inconvenience to the Economy. As for the War, it was over 70 years ago.
L777
14 Oct 2014  #52
Fair enough. You should have addressed your post to CasualObserver or jon357.
johnny reb 16 | 3,465
14 Oct 2014  #54
This thread is about differences Polish people see with the British.

Statistics speak for themselves as this article shows.

Britons spend more on drugs and prostitutes than on beer and wine, the first official study of money spent on "illegal" activities has found.

The figures were disclosed in data today that showed a 2.2 per cent rise in the amount of money spent by families over the past year as the economy returned to health.

The Office for National Statistics, which tracks changes in spending habits across the country, found miscreants spent an enormous £12.3 billion last year on illegal substances and sexual gratification. This was more than the amount spent on wine and beer in 2013, which was just under £11 billion, according to the ONS data.

The statistics body been forced by the European Union to investigate the amount of money splurged on illegal drugs and prostitution. Today was its final deadline to publicise the findings, which are now included in the national accounts. The EU said such work was necessary to create a fair comparison of different national economies.
ESN
14 Oct 2014  #55
Coming back to the initial question, although I've never been to the UK I used to work in the hotel and travel a bit so I've met a few Britons anyway.

I've found both positive and negative British features. I truly adore your politeness and helpfulness, whenever I have needed help with my luggage it has been always British person who has helped me, if you ask about the way and after that you turn in the wrong direction, it is pretty common for Brits to warn you about that. I also enjoy your "small talks", at first they seemed for me very fake and unnecessary but with times I've noticed that talks in the reception in hotel are fake anyway and such "breakers" like "how are you" create a bit warmer atmosphere. I also appropriate your behavior in the lines, even if somebody is a bit lost you don't tend to use his moment of weakness for overtaking his place ;)

Unfortunately, life is brutal, and you have also disadvantages. You tend to be very direct, you can criticize somebody or something very harshly without carrying much about somebody's feelings. You also like to exaggerate and take too serious steps in very irrelevant situation, you don't look for the conciliatory solution, but prefer take official steps like some official complaint or calling police or something. I still remember when in my city 2 exchange students had fight and the British girl (participant of the fight) insisted on calling to the British Embassy to deport the another girl!!! (not worth mentioning that the British Embassy is not entitled to deport anybody from Poland) In Poland we don't trust our state too much and avoid taking official steps, so it's particularly weird and unpleasant behavior.
aloosh88 - | 1
14 Oct 2014  #56
I am totally agree with that
CasualObserver
14 Oct 2014  #57
In Britain, there has always been quite high trust in 'officials' (police, civil authorities, doctors, even politicians) - in fact they are known collectively as 'public servants', which gives an idea of how people see their role. For hundreds of years we have never had a 'police state' or militarized regime (Northern Ireland is an exception), and corruption is generally very low (and heavily punished). So people do rely on them to help out or act as arbitration or mediation - you expect fair treatment and so trust them to help deal with problems. I can understand how that might differ in Poland, and I read one quote of a Polish woman saying that "the Communists robbed us of trust in each other". In Britain, officials asking for bribes, for example, never happens with the public.

So for British, if there is a problem between people, then a natural thing to do is to involve the authorities to help deal with it. Examples might be a neighbour repeatedly playing loud music or having a noisy dog, concern about a child (maybe the parents seem cruel), seeing a car being driven dangerously, a drunk person getting into a car to drive home, an very severe argument between a husband and wife (where you worry about violence). If people feel strongly, they view officials as there to help them. They see it as a form of protection.
ESN
14 Oct 2014  #58
Generally it's really good that you trust your "public servants" so much, it's an expected situation. In Poland for years officials were the enemy, both during communism and earlier before I WW too. I'm afraid that even if our public servants were perfect, we would need the years to rebuild the trust. Nowadays we can hear all the time about some affairs concerning officials, so the rebuilding of the trust is nearly impossible and that's why involving any public servants in the minor, interpersonal cases seems very hostile for the average Pole. By the way, is it the level of trust in the officials lower in the Northern Ireland? Is it any correlation between more similar history and the level of assimilation of Polish migrants in the UK?
EdinburghGirl
14 Oct 2014  #59
I wish British shop assistants would realise just how awkward it makes their customers feel when they ask "how are you today" and "any plans for the rest of the day"

It's small talk and I realise they're only trying to make polite conversation but it's so cringey and fake.

There's a petrol station I avoid because the staff are so in your face, fake smiley and ask over familiar, inappropriate questions. Although I've travelled a fair bit I cannot remember if the 'how are you' thing is the norm in other countries.
pam
15 Oct 2014  #60
I wish British shop assistants would realise just how awkward it makes their customers feel when they ask "how are you today" and "any plans for the rest of the day"

I expect they feel just as awkward too, as most of the time they will have been told by management to ask questions such as these as a way of improving customer service. Although personally I've never been asked what my plans are for the rest of the day.

It's small talk and I realise they're only trying to make polite conversation but it's so cringey and fake.

Of course it is, they don't seriously care how are you are!

It is notable though, the difference between customer service here in the UK and in Poland.
Many people on this forum have commented that customer service in PL is poor, but personally I think it's more that Poles don't engage in small talk to the degree that the British do. If you're served in a shop in Poland, they do exactly that without any of the small talk associated with service that you get in the UK.

On the whole though my friends do think the British are friendlier in shops, restaurants etc, whether it be fake or not.

Although I've travelled a fair bit I cannot remember if the 'how are you' thing is the norm in other countries.

I think " How are you? " is a more British thing to be honest, in the same way that " Have a nice day " is typically American.


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