Du vs Sie culture in office

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Hello all,

 

I am working with a Job placement agency and my Einsatzort is a big company. On my first day, my colleague told me to 'Siezen'. I noticed that with other colleagues, she is on Du basis but thought that they know each other probably for years, so didnt make any issue of it. But recently they hired an employee directly on permanent basis and she is per Du even with top management. My colleage was also per Du with everyone-new or old employees. I asked why only I am under 'Sie' rule, she steered the question towards my inefficiency and frequent mistakes.

 

My issue that if I am inefficient, they should be firing me  but they are actually extending my contract. I think reason of this discrimination is only because I am a Zeitmitarbeiter and not a regular employee? Am I wrong to feel insulted or its a normal work culture here?

 

In addition to all this, I am spoken to in a very rude and agressive tone which I blame it on my stupid mistakes. Feeling too depressed. Want to complain to HR but I dont think it will help as everyone seems to be same.

Will be very thankful for your words of wisdom

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You are an outsider, I experienced the same. Just keep quiet and try not to be noticed. Those efficient Germans spent work time gossiping while I was trying to work.😣

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Lol.

Seems like they think because you´re a "zeitmitarbeiter"(leiharbeiter?) that you´re a lower class of lifeform than them.

Also you´re I presume a foreigner.

You just hit the jackpot as far as some shitheads are concerned.

As your colleague actually told you to "Sie" them then that really does show what sort of person they are.

 

Unfortunately, as you´re a leiharbeiter don´t even bother talking to HR as you would be too much trouble for them. It´s much easier for them to ring up your company and get a replacement for you than it is for them to actually investigate your complaint.

 

 

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@Fietsrad, @Keleth. Thank you so much for your support. At least now I know that I am not oversensitive. I can work now without feeling I am the wrong one here.

 

@Keleth: Yes, I am a foreigner with a 'pushover' personality. But I love working and am here just to get some experience.

 

Thanks again both of you for your time

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In my experience, as a lowly Zeitarbeiter, I was always on a Du basis.  Later, working on projects as an external, I would normally get Sie initially but told that they were all on a Du basis and if I didn't have a problem ...   Only one company I worked at was going by Sie and doing it for everybody.

 

In your case, it looks like they are using Sie not as a form of respect but in order to keep you at a distance.  You are not a part of the team, just the hired help.  In your shoes, I'd be talking with the job placement agency and asking them if it's possible to find you another project.

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I had exactly the same experience when I worked for Zeitarbeit. It was awful. Best is to be polite, keep yourself to yourself, get your work done and do not share any personal information.

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You are from Sri Lanka. However rudely Germans react to us white, "native English" (where ever we are actually from), they are much ruder to "other groups". Either rude or condescending.  I put the older German women (busybodies in other times or places) in the "Integrationshilfe" in this category. The ones I am in contact with seem to work from the position that the foreigner is wrong, and the German way is correct, and they are being kind in helping the newcomers become German. I am not sure what you can do to change this: there does not seem to be any degree of embarrassment or awareness of this behaviour. Not like in countries that are more multiracial and did have institutional racism (UK, South Africa, USA to name a few...there you may still be on the receiving end of racism but its known to be wrong behaviour associated with some degree of shame ...at least, more so than in Germany). 

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I see you do not have the concept in your native language. 

 

The comments above might be true, but siezen is per se not humiliation, it is the sign of distance and respect. It's actually duzen without permission what is offensive, not vice versa. I personally do not see any need to switch to du at work. I am here to work, not drink beer. 

 

While the desire to be cold and distant might be because the colleague do not like you, they are doing their best to speak with respect. 

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If nothing happened ( like a fight) excluding one person like this is very rude. Where I work we are all per Du. Zeitarbeiter too. I would do as Anna said and keep my distance. There are many very nice Germans but also some that are aggressive and authoritarian. I learnt that early in my life. And I simply keep my distance from such a person. I don't expect anything from them except that they don't start bullying me 

 

Sorry that this is happening to you 

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1 hour ago, Namu said:

If nothing happened ( like a fight) excluding one person like this is very rude. Where I work we are all per Du. Zeitarbeiter too. I would do as Anna said and keep my distance. There are many very nice Germans but also some that are aggressive and authoritarian. I learnt that early in my life. And I simply keep my distance from such a person. I don't expect anything from them except that they don't start bullying me 

 

Sorry that this is happening to you 

Fight? Is that an argument or a physical battle? The word has different meanings for English/British and for American people.

 

Group dynamics are often significant. I am male, was as Zeitarbeiter in an office with three females. They gossipped about make-up while I was trying to work😕

 

I think working hours should be reduced, so people concentrate on working while at work, instead of chattering.

 

Agree with statement above, 'Siezen' often means respect, in a shop for example. I am retired, and might feel insulted if someone much younger (wanting to sell me something!) called me 'du'.

 

Retired and moved home recently, made new friends, "du" is normal. 

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4 hours ago, Fietsrad said:

 

Agree with statement above, 'Siezen' often means respect, in a shop for example.

Yes but you wouldn´t walk into a shop and say to the salesman "use Sie to me" would you.

If I met my "colleague" (not boss) for the first time and they said to use Sie I´d think what a c**t and would drop the Du bomb on them all the time.In the OPs example especially it just appears to be someone trying to show that they´re better than a leiharbieter.

 

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6 hours ago, yourkeau said:

While the desire to be cold and distant might be because the colleague do not like you, they are doing their best to speak with respect. 

No.

They´re trying to show that he should show respect to them which when you tell someone to use Sie the first day that to me says you think the person is not intelligent enough to use it without being told to say it.

If you´re in a group of 10 equal people and you have no problem with 8 of them using Du but you expect 1 of them to use Sie then that shows arrogance and a massive level of disrespect.

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13 minutes ago, Keleth said:

No.

They´re trying to show that he should show respect to them which when you tell someone to use Sie the first day that to me says you think the person is not intelligent enough to use it without being told to say it.

If you´re in a group of 10 equal people and you have no problem with 8 of them using Du but you expect 1 of them to use Sie then that shows arrogance and a massive level of disrespect.

 

I don't think they are considering the OP to be an equal.

 

It is possible that the OP walked in and immediately started using Du which rubbed the colleague the wrong way, especially if the colleague is older or is of a higher rank. Later the OP asks why they are the only one by Sie which probably bugs the colleague again to have that discussion.

 

IMO if ppl want to use Sie, I don't have a problem but if they are rude like OP says, it kind of depends on if I need the job or what kind of terms I am on with the agency.  I'd probably talk to the agency and ask them to get me out of there as soon as they can and if they don't, probably look for another job.

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My heartfelt gratitude to all of you who took time to reply.

 

Monday Update: I talked to my job placement agency. And they were very understanding of situation. Its just not du vs Sie thing. There is some other passive aggressive behaviour too. They have decided to look for another job for me and I will also try to search personally.

 

Lesson learned: communicate your problems to others (even Toytown helps;) I was really getting anxious because company was going to extend my contract and I didnt want to work in that situation any longer.

 

Also just to clarify: Thanks to my integration course, I always approach the situation with 'Sie'. I told my colleagues that at my previous job we used to do 'duzen'. and she said that I have to 'Siezen' even if another colleague ist using 'Du' with me. I was told by my german teacher that its rude to keep on 'Siezen' when another person is talking 'per du'.

 

Anyways feeling very lightened up today:)

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On 20.3.2022 17:56:54, Keleth said:

Yes but you wouldn´t walk into a shop and say to the salesman "use Sie to me" would you.

If I met my "colleague" (not boss) for the first time and they said to use Sie I´d think what a c**t and would drop the Du bomb on them all the time.In the OPs example especially it just appears to be someone trying to show that they´re better than a leiharbieter.

 

If a shop 'assistant' duzed me, I should quite likely turn on my heel and leave the premises, taking my hundreds or thousands of €uros with me.

..

Those of us who did German at school many years ago probably well remember learning about Siezen and Duzen. It varies in different situations, work, leisure, shopping, maybe it has changed over time. And now I have become a senior person who might expect more respect.

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9 minutes ago, Fietsrad said:

If a shop 'assistant' duzed me, I should quite likely turn on my heel and leave the premises, taking my hundreds or thousands of €uros with me.

..

Those of us who did German at school many years ago probably well remember learning about Siezen and Duzen. It varies in different situations, work, leisure, shopping, maybe it has changed over time. And now I have become a senior person who might expect more respect.

 

Yer funny.

 

Things have changed a bit but I have never felt disrespected when someone duzes me. I'm not German. I duze all the young shopkeepers so I don't expect anything else. I find it all so comical as if there aren't worse things happening.

 

Different in a workplace, of course. Some are all Du and some are not.

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1 hour ago, Skorpio said:

I told my colleagues that at my previous job we used to do 'duzen'. and she said that I have to 'Siezen' even if another colleague ist using 'Du' with me. I was told by my german teacher that its rude to keep on 'Siezen' when another person is talking 'per du'.

 

You don't have to continue Sie if someone is using Du with you.  As for it being rude, I am doing a B2 online right now and they say that if you prefer Sie, it's not rude to tell the person that you find it more professional to stick with Sie and that they shouldn't be offended but some probably would be.

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Fortunately, I work in a Kita/Krippe so all the kids are at 'Du' level and all the staff are on first name terms with the kids and each other. Even the bosses.

 

Wierdest thing I discovered recently, is that the teachers (including the bosses) 'Sie' the parents.

 

Whereas I, have kids calling me 'John', and then their parents calling 'John' to which I respond to with "What's your name?" Which they tell me and we fist-bump.

 

Which leads to some really confused identity convos with the teachers (I have no idea about parents' surnames), but I think the parents have got it spot on.

 

Be nice to the man in the kitchen who's feeding your child all day.

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However, 

8 hours ago, Chelski said:

Wierdest thing I discovered recently, is that the teachers (including the bosses) 'Sie' the parents.

What's weird about that? It's common courtesy and to be expected. What's the norm in my experience is that parents address the Kindergarten "teachers" by Sie and first name though.

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