Pole and Slovak speaking in their native languages
I think that some of you may find it interesting to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRTuxDtzYCc. The idea is that two guys try to communicate using their own native langauges, that is Polish and Slovak. As you can find out they can hold quite a good conversation without being able to speak in the other one's language but only using knowledge of their native languages. Perhaps you can also grasp something using your Polish skills ;) Similar thing can be observed between Czech and Slovak which was probably even more common in the times of Czechoslovakia.
Yeah, but Slovak is probably the easiest to understand for a Pole who wasn't especially exposed to other Slavic languages. There are also videos with other Slavic languages and the conversations don't seem so easy.
I have been in this situation a few times before :)
Once during a meeting I attended, with a Czech book author, the interpreter had to just give up half into the meeting and let the audience ask questions in Polish to which the author answered in Czech and we all understood each other without much difficulty, even the jokes.
I also once worked with a Slovak girl and sometimes, when she was really exited, she started speaking Slovakian and it didn't really bother me. Most of the time she spoke perfect Polish though. She said that from her perspective learning to speak Polish was pretty easy.
Another time my mum, who doesn't speak any language other than Polish, went on vacation to Czech Republic and had a few nice conversations with some natives she met, even if neither spoke the other's language.
Although there are some significant differences that can be pretty funny. For example "fresh bread" in Czech is "čerstvý chléb" which means "bread that has gone bad" in Polish. I also laughed a lot when I saw "rozpustna káva" on a shelf in a Czech store for the first time. In Czech it means "instant coffee", where in Polish it means "sluttish coffee" (yes, you've read that right).
I don't know any Slovak and I have never been exposed to that language, but I understood 90% of what the Slovak speaker said, which is very odd. I then switched to a Slovak news video and I was getting 40-50%. Just out of curiosity I watched another 'mutual intelligebility video' by the same guy, this time with a Russian speaker. The russian speaker seemed to understand almost everything in Polish, even those words that don't have any cognates in Russian. It was clear to me, that he chose a person who alreday learned some Polish in the past. That is, of course, very missleading. And it made me even more sceptical of the Slovak video. There also might be some form of trickery involved, maybe they agreed on using only Polish-Slovak cognates beforehand?
No, the Russian speaker didn't learn Polish but he was actually learning Ukrainian and Belarusian which could help him a bit with Polish. Also, the Polish speaker was learning Russian in primary school so he probably has some basic knowledge of Russian. Besides, they could guess meaning of some words from the context of conversation.
On the other hand, Slovak seems much closer to Polish and it is easier to understand. The Slovak speaker explained in another video that he has visited Poland a few times and he was able to communicate with Poles in Slovak and they were responding him in Polish. If something is not understandable, you can also explain the meaning of unknown words or use their synonyms which can be present in the other language as well. After all, such conversation can take more time but it is probably possible. The important thing is to speak slowly and clearly which is not always observed in everyday speech.