Choose the right greeting
Getting started is always the hardest part, especially when it comes to email writing in Polish. However, before you become too intimidated by some unwritten rules of professional email etiquette, we will let you in on a little secret: a lot of Polish native speakers face the same dilemmas that you do when addressing or signing off business messages. Choosing appropriate terms of address seems particularly important in business communication - the way you greet your recipients sets the tone for the rest of the message and says a lot about your professionalism. The problem is, there are a few common salutations used in formal writing in Poland and sometimes even native speakers have a hard time deciding which one to choose. Let us then take a closer look at the three most popular greeting phrases:
- Witam - although still accepted by many Polish native speakers, this word of greeting is best avoided in email communication. Witam literally means “welcome”, therefore its use is not only incorrect but may imply that your position is superior to that of the recipient.
- Szanowni Państwo - translates as “Dear Sir or Madam” in English. It is the most formal and polite way of addressing someone you do not know personally. If you are certain that your message will be received by a woman, you can write Szanowna Pani (“Dear Madam”), by a man - Szanowny Panie (“Dear Sir”).
- Dzień dobry - the expression (meaning “Good morning”) is considered the most neutral, if only slightly less formal than Szanowni Państwo. It can be applied in most business situations although some Polish speakers tend to avoid it - after all, your message may be received in the evening hours (greetings such as “Good afternoon” or “Good evening” are not used in email communication in the Polish language).
All the above expressions are commonly followed by a comma. Note that in Polish, you do not use greetings such as “Hi” or “Hello” (Hej, Cześć) in business writing, unless the message is meant for your colleagues or someone you know very well.
And a proper sign-off
Before you sign off the email with your name, remember to include a short closing phrase at the end of your message. The following are the most common ways to close a Polish business email:
- Z poważaniem - the Polish equivalent of “Sincerely” or “Yours faithfully” - a very official and formal-sounding phrase.
- Z wyrazami szacunku/Łączę wyrazy szacunku - both expressions mean more or less the same as the English phrase “With kind regards”. If you want to sound very polite in Polish, this is your go-to option.
- Pozdrawiam - probably the most popular and neutral salutation. You can use it to close formal and semi-formal messages.
Sign-off words and phrases should not be followed by a comma but your full name underneath.
General hints and tips
The basic rules of email communication in Poland do not differ from those used by English speakers around the world: try to be concise and to the point, convey your message clearly and avoid using too many exclamation points. Remain professional at all times and always remember to proofread your email before sending it. When writing in Polish, stick to the general rules of etiquette - do not address your recipients by their first name (unless you know them well of course) but show them respect by using capitalized forms of words Pan, Pani or Państwo. Finally, try to respond to your messages in a timely manner - as a general rule, one or two business days would be considered an appropriate response time in non-urgent matters.
Read more about everyday customs and rules of etiquette in Poland