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Curious about differences Polish people see with the British?


CasualObserver
15 Oct 2014  #61
"How are you?" or "How are you doing?" isn't fake or new, it's a standard greeting, a modern version of the old-fashioned "how do you do?" greeting that you might see in old films. It's the equivalent of Dzien dobry. Just saying "Hello" or "Hi" is actually the newer version of a greeting (the former was only invented with the telephone, the latter with American influence in the last century) - that's the equivalent of 'cześć'.

My Polish language book says "asking how somebody is has no place in a Polish greeting, and would be considered strange". But in Brityish it's completely normal and always has been, including to strangers: "Hello, how are you?"

"Have a nice day!" is a cliched Americanism that most people don't use.

Re Northern Ireland - there is less trust of authoroties there, mostly among the Catholic population, due to the sectarian issues going back a long way. Many Catholic Irish Nationalists consider the authorities in Northern Ireland a British occupying force, and don't recognise Northern Ireland as a legitimate part of the UK.
EdinburghGirl
15 Oct 2014  #62
Yes Pam the Polish do not engage in small talk, I wish us Brits were the same! Just popped into M & S for my lunch and had the usual "how are you today?" and "what are you doing later...any plans?" sigh....

They're told to do it by managment ofcourse, but it's so cringe and awkward, particularly when there's a long line of customers behind.
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544
15 Oct 2014  #63
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.

Regardless of our place of birth we are all still subject of propaganda of the state's we were brougt up in. Sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it's more obvious, but it doesn't matter if you are from England, USA, Lithuania, Poland or North Korea, we all went through it and are unconsciously burdened by it.

I'm sorry CasualObserver, but I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the past I was this typicall Pole who, when finally got the chance, set the record straight and explained "the ignorant" Briton our side of the WWII story... I can't even pin point the exact situation when I heard about the western betrayal... I guess it's something that just flouts here in the air.

But I wasn't trying to be malice. It was just an innocent pub banter. No harm was intended as I actually really like your country.

Talking about differences between Poles and Britons, thought, I actually think you guys are more sensitive about the words, the way, the manner and the circumstances things are being said, that often our straightforwardness is being evaluated as inappropriate and even hostile, despite our true intentions.

Plus, you expect and actually use the word please like mad! ;)
pam
15 Oct 2014  #64
"How are you?" or "How are you doing?" isn't fake or new, it's a standard greeting,

It is, and often one I would say to friends or acquaintances but EdinburghGirl was talking about a stranger serving you in a shop. In that context, it often comes across as false. Why would you ask a total stranger how they are unless you've been told to? Surely " how can I help you? " might at least sound a bit more genuine.

My Polish language book says "asking how somebody is has no place in a Polish greeting, and would be considered strange"

True. If they didn't consider you strange for asking, be prepared to hear the trials and tribulations of their day if they do respond. It will be taken very literally, whereas the British would tend to respond with " I'm fine " even if their house burnt down half an hour before.

"Have a nice day!" is a cliched Americanism that most people don't use.

Funny that. My son got sick of hearing it on the many visits he's had to the states.
ZIMMY 6 | 1,601
15 Oct 2014  #65
I've traveled all over 'Great Britain' and never had a problem. As an American with a Polish last name checking into hotels, etc. I was always treated well or at least with a modicum of courtesy. That was true even when I spoke Polish in public. Perhaps my 'westerness' projected itself or it may have been my extraordinary good looks (lol).l
10iwonka10 - | 396
18 Oct 2014  #66
To be honest I don't quite understand purpose of questions asked in the shops 'How are you today'? 'what are your plans for the evening' ?- I find it bizarre and someway patronizing.

Wouldn't be enough to smile and say 'good morning/afternoon' 'How can I help' ?

Luckily it doesn't happen very often and from my observation these questions are usually asked by young /cocky boys :-)
EdinburghGirl
18 Oct 2014  #67
^^^ yes, it's over familiar and fake. A very British thing.

I started doing a new thing today, which is to perform a big frown and act really confused when shop assistant ask me how I am. They make me feel uncomfortable by initially asking, so I make them feel uncomfortable in return.

I hate it.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
19 Oct 2014  #68
Funny that. My son got sick of hearing it on the many visits he's had to the states.

One of the cashiers at a discount supermarket in an Essex town always used to say "Enjoy the rest of your day!" to each shopper.

And a few years back another major supermarket's local manager instructed staff to greet each shopper at the checkout with "How's your day going/what are you doing today?" but not "What are you doing tonight?" of course, as that could have got a few of us a tad excited.
tictactoe
19 Oct 2014  #69
I visited a well known Germany supermarket yesterday and they have a Polish girl working there. The shop has been re-organised and products moved to other areas, even I had trouble finding items. A disabled woman walking on canes walked upto the Polsih girl and asked " Do you still sell this product ?" the Polish girl said "yes " and walked away !! ....LOL......a few people were shaking their heads and looked at each other wilth grins, I walked over to woman and asked what she wanted and went and got it for her. Fake or not, common sense would tell anyone with half a brain the lady was in trouble and the shop had a major change, and to be honest any English person would have the manners to respond with a bit of humanity.
ESN
19 Oct 2014  #70
First of all how did you know the girl was Polish?

Actually I've heard from some foreigners that Polish people are relatively helpful so her behavior was rather related with being utterly reckless then with culture in anyway! we can meet idiots all over the world.
tictactoe
19 Oct 2014  #71
Her name is Magda, it says so on her badge and she is Polish, she says that.
Gdyniaguy14 - | 22
20 Oct 2014  #72
Quality!

First of all how did you know the girl was Polish?

Actually I've heard from some foreigners that Polish people are relatively helpful so her behavior was rather related with being utterly reckless then with culture in anyway! we can meet idiots all over the world.

Actually, Polish shop assistants in the UK are generally better then the ones in Poland.
ESN
20 Oct 2014  #73
It was written she was Magda, which not necessarily means she was Polish, but anyway what do you mean by "better" don't you think it's pretty relative? Plus comparing Polish assistants in the UK with Polish assistants in Poland only supports my statement that it's individual feature rather then something related with culture or in anyway general for Poles. You may seem Polish assistants in the UK "better" then those in Poland simply because they are more confident about speaking in English. What really should be compared, to make any statement about differences between Polish and British people, is the service in English in Poland to the service in Polish in UK.
jon357 63 | 14,122
20 Oct 2014  #74
The second line of the post answers your question. Your point about comparing English language service in Poland to Polish language service in the UK is a false one, unless 950,000 Poles leave the UK or 950,000 Brits move to Poland. Neither is likely to happen and in fact your point makes even less sense when you consider how many shop assistants in the UK speak fluent Polish.

By the way, when visiting the UK I often end up speaking Polish to shop assistants since Poles' English is not usually as fluent as my Polish and is sometimes a stumbling block to good service. Yet in Warsaw some start speaking English to me for no reason at all.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
20 Oct 2014  #75
Yet in Warsaw some start speaking English to me for no reason at all.

They want a free lesson, probably. Or, as has been suggested here once before when Poles suddenly speak English in response to a foreigner's Polish, it's because your Polish ain't all that :p

Polish girl said "yes " and walked away !! ....

Well, that happened in the UK in the past and then supermarkets started to train staff to ask the customer "Shall I show you where it is?" or to as a matter of routine always escort the customer there. I realise in this case the customer was infirm and so the staff member should have delicately suggested she could fetch it for her, but everyone has blonde moments and that same member of staff could be a star on another occasion.
ESN
20 Oct 2014  #76
Ok I wasn't accurate enough, the thread is about comparing Polish with British, not Poland with UK, it means that comparing Polish with Polish is completely pointless, even more if Polish in UK differs from Polish in Poland, it means that the differences in service are not related with our culture in anyway but with some other circumstances like trainings, language abrrier etc., to find the cultural differences in the service we should eliminate other factor so we should compare British shop assistant talking in English with English speaking person with Polish shop assistant talking in Polish with Polish speaking person.

They are probably trying to be nice! But anyway world would be far too boring place if you were always served in English in England and in Polish in Poland. Now you feel always this thrill of excitement never know which language you will be talking in:D
EdinburghGirl
20 Oct 2014  #77
tictactoe

A disabled woman walking on canes walked upto the Polsih girl and asked " Do you still sell this product ?" the Polish girl said "yes " and walked away !! ....LOL......

Haha...this made me laugh. Love it.
jon357 63 | 14,122
21 Oct 2014  #78
it means that the differences in service are not related with our culture in anyway but with some other circumstances like trainings, language abrrier etc., to find the cultural differences in the service we should eliminate other factor so we should compare British shop assistant talking in English with English speaking person with Polish shop assistant talking in Polish with Polish speaking person.

I do think they're a cultural thing. Plenty of people including myself fit both of the linguistic examples you mention and see the difference in behaviour quite often. I'm used to East European levels of service now - it doesn't really bother me unless it's a particularly egregious example - the one in the post above about the disabled man might provoke a laugh but it's probably true. When I visit the UK (or other places outside this part of the world) I always notice the difference immediately - sometimes it's quite striking. This weekend I was I the UK with my other half whose lived in PL longer than I have and comes from another European country that has poor customer service but had never been to Britain before. We were in a department store (well, BHS anyway) and asked where a particular product was and two ladies on the staff immediately went to look for it while another went to the computer to try and find where the product had been put. I'd almost forgotten that this happens and my partner's jaw almost hit the floor with surprise.

In Warsaw, one assistant would try to ignore you, one would just say they didn't know (abruptly probably) and the other would be engaged in some meaningless but long-winded debate with a customer about minute details of something he was going to buy anyway.
Englishman 2 | 278
21 Oct 2014  #79
To be honest I don't quite understand purpose of questions asked in the shops

I think there are two possibilities: either these cocky young boys see a beautiful Polish woman and think it could be a way to get to know her, or the employees have been through some American-style customer relationship training.

In Britain, our shop assistants, like everyone else, are naturally surly and keep themselves to themselves. All this 'good morning/afternoon, Sir/Madam' and the dreadful 'have a nice day now!' has been imported from America; it isn't how we do things here...
johnny reb 17 | 3,627
21 Oct 2014  #80
'have a nice day now!' has been imported from America; it isn't how we do things here...

Rather stuffy place I would have to say ole chap. Why the bur up the backside ?
I always get a 'Yak sha mush gee shay' with a smile by my Polish friends here in America.
EdinburghGirl
22 Oct 2014  #81
The main difference between cultures is that the British do everything behind a big, fake smiley face and are over the top with friendliness, be it business or personal affairs, it's always there. The Polish are more honest in their intentions and do not feel the need for small talk or over politeness.

My advice to foreigners not familiar with the ways of the British is not to take them at face value. They may be smiley, polite and pleasant on the surface but it's all an act, particularly with the English.
Szalawa 3 | 248
22 Oct 2014  #82
They may be smiley, polite and pleasant on the surface but it's all an act, particularly with the English.

I am no fan of the British but I think you being a bit harsh, although if I judged all British based on the ones writing on this forum I would think they are the most rude snobby stuck ups, still it's a shame because its really just a few bad apples on here and I notice many Brits are normal.
EdinburghGirl
22 Oct 2014  #83
^^^^ Perhaps they're snobby and stuck up (subjective) because their ancestors colonised the world. The British are obsessed, and always will be, with class, unlike the Americans.
jon357 63 | 14,122
22 Oct 2014  #84
They may be smiley, polite and pleasant on the surface but it's all an act, particularly with the English.

Looks like someone's having a bad day. You can't generalise about such a large number of people. Having said that, and the British are, by and large, genuine in what they say and do. The politeness on the surface is much more pleasant than the surliness in some other parts of the world.

Perhaps they're snobby and stuck up (subjective) because their ancestors colonised the world.

They aren't and most of our ancestors didn't.

The British are obsessed, and always will be, with class, unlike the Americans.

Which is doubtless why more Americans than Brits watch Downton Abbey ;-)
EdinburghGirl
22 Oct 2014  #85
The politeness on the surface is much more pleasant than the surliness in some other parts of the world.

Not when it's disingenuous.

Other than India's five tier class/caste system, no other country beats the British and their outdated obsession with class. At least India is upfront about theirs.

Re. your referencing of Downton Abbey, shouldn't it be fairly obvious that more Americans watch it given the fact Britain is a mere fraction of the size of the US? Hardly revelation of the year.
Dougpol1 30 | 2,935
22 Oct 2014  #86
I would think they are the most rude snobby stuck ups

Nah :)There's no snob like a Polish snob.
I work in Gdansk Morena on a Wednesday night and they are epidemic in their Nissan sports cars, Tommy Hilfigger running vests and walking their pugs, residing grandly in their over-priced moronic high wire fenced, security guarded, modernistic concrete jungles with a nice view of the next high wire fenced concrete jungle:) In the UK they would be taken down a peg or two I guarantee it as no normal person would tolerate the superior twits.

And yes I am familiar with the meaning of the word "snob". Of course I am "better" than them. I can read, for a start :)
EdinburghGirl
22 Oct 2014  #87
Ah but that's nouveau riche. No such thing as old money in Poland :
Dougpol1 30 | 2,935
22 Oct 2014  #88
Yes - I am far worse than them of course, looking down my ageing nose at them as I do - I don't know if I can take any more lol :) I must train my overly submissive labrador to bite back when their designer dogs are too haughty:)
jon357 63 | 14,122
22 Oct 2014  #89
Not when it's disingenuous.

But is it disingenuous or just polite? Disingenuous would imply there's some ulterior motive; I lived there for long enough and so no ulterior motive at all - just a desire for interactions to be pleasant.

the British and their outdated obsession with class.

It seems the obsession is more on your part - class exists there as it does pretty well everywhere else but the only real distinctions are money, taste and behaviour.

Hardly revelation of the year.

Not really, since they don't exactly lack other things to watch and it is a huge success there.

No such thing as old money in Poland

You'd be surprised...
Dougpol1 30 | 2,935
23 Oct 2014  #90
We were in a department store (well, BHS anyway) and asked where a particular product was and two ladies on the staff immediately went to look for it while another went to the computer to try and find where the product had been put.

Mmm

I was in Boots in Glasgow and asked the girl at the counter where the station for trains to Perth was. When I didn't understand her brogue (accent) she closed her till, took me by the hand (I was younger then), walked me out into the street and indicated down the road and to the right. All done with a smile and great courtesy.

By the same token, my Skoda ( blush) broke down (of course) near Pszczyna on a Sunday - the mechanic insisted on postponing his Sunday lunch to come out and rescue us on a hot summers' day and to (temporarily) fix said motor on the same Sunday afternoon, as we had a sprog in tow (aka a 2 year old princess) and had to get back to civilisation (well - Katowice, actually...)

Motto: use shops in the UK - get your car serviced in Poland :)


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