Du vs Sie culture in office

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It was quite odd for me when I moved to the Oberallgäu in 2011, having lived in Unterfranken, Ffm and the Oberpfalz.  Near on everyone here uses the informal.  The only times 'Sie' is used is with a doctor or the government and even the latter is more informal often than the former.  

I had a mini-job back in 2014 and after the hiring process I was immediately told to use 'du' with everyone short of the owner.  The Allgäu is truly a bit odd.  Nice, but odd.

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... and then there's the famous remark, much loved by Germans when speaking English: " you can say you to me."

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10 hours ago, Chelski said:

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.

 

I am useless using Sie. I get away with saying Du to everyone at work and so I've just never really naturally taken to Sie. I am all over the place when picking up the kid from Kita. Duzen to all the kids and other parents and then Siezen to the teachers...luckily they are all very forgiving to this bumbling foreigner.

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14 hours 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.

Yeah, no. That's just f***ing rude. Did she think she could get away with that crap because you are not a native speaker? I hate people like that. 

 

A lot of Germans make allowances for non-native German speakers, especially English speakers, because virtually everyone knows that there is no Du/Sie distinction in English so most learners have trouble with it. A lot of Germans get confused at times. I know someone who spent years avoiding directly addressing someone because she didn't know if she should use Du or Sie. 

 

I (German native) have told a few people that I would like to stick with Sie. It's not very polite but perfectly ok. They were a bit miffed but got over it. That was at work though. In private life, I don't really care but prefer du. If someone uses Du with me, they get Du back. The only exception: The over-80 folks in the village I grew up with and have known me since birth. Hell, some of them even say Du to my mom and she says Sie back for the same reason. 

 

I am glad you're looking for another job. It sounds like quite a toxic environment. 

 

 

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My company informally mandates "du" for all. Even the cleaning lady calls the CEO by "du". Even in front of customers.

It's a good thing in my opinion, especially compared with many Portuguese non-tech companies, where everyone demands to be called "Dr." despite having no PHD and in many cases, no higher education.

I Loooooove going back there and when they demand to be called Dr, I pretend to be interested and ask them on which field did they take their PHD :D :D

 

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Yeah, people demand Dr. if they have a simple 3 or 5 years diplom.

But many also demand Dr. if they have any type of management position, even if they don't have a degree.

Legally they are wrong, but nobody cares.

 

They also do the same with "Engineer". I personally know several people without degrees that demand to be called "Engineers".

And for the top prize, the driving examinators demand to be called "engineers!"

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Always use Sie with police officers!

 

I use Du with little kiddies, they do not know the Du/Sie rules yet. I am glad if they Du me.

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I try to use my best American accent (not very good) with police officers... "MUORNING OFFISSAS!". Seems to work.

Playing the "dumb foreign" card works quite well, and pretending to be american I pass as harmless, instead of using a eastern europe accent.

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23 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

I try to use my best American accent (not very good) with police officers... "MUORNING OFFISSAS!". Seems to work.

Playing the "dumb foreign" card works quite well, and pretending to be american I pass as harmless, instead of using a eastern europe accent.

 

Ironically, that situation is when I get the most use from my german Ausweis with the Dr. title. It's like a  small can of instant respect. It works in Austria too :P  

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57 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

My company informally mandates "du" for all. Even the cleaning lady calls the CEO by "du". Even in front of customers.

It's a good thing in my opinion, especially compared with many Portuguese non-tech companies, where everyone demands to be called "Dr." despite having no PHD and in many cases, no higher education.

I Loooooove going back there and when they demand to be called Dr, I pretend to be interested and ask them on which field did they take their PHD :D :D

 

In every company I worked for in the UK everybody was on first name terms irrespective of position, these were SME's. The only people I found who expected to be formerly addressed were working class. Transpose that to working in Germany was a bit difficult but basically anyone with a senior management roll in the workplace I now address as Sie and everyone else as Du but I prefer using first name terms. The only problem is that people refer to others by their surnames and I don't remember surnames because I don't use them so I'm left scratching my head during conversations.

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11 minutes ago, mtbiking said:

Ironically, that situation is when I get the most use from my Germany Ausweis with the Dr. title. It's like a  small can of instant respect. It works in Austria too :P  

Unsure if I told this story here, but 20 years ago I got stopped by the police in Portugal.

They asked who owned the car, and I said "My father".

They noticed that the car had a circulation tax-free sticker, and asked me "is your daddy handicapped?" (o seu paizinho é deficiente?) ??? :D :D :D

And I said "no, he's a public prossecutor". Instant respect!

 

Problem was, right after that, a friend on the back shouted, in mentally handicapped voice "MY DADDY PWAYS THE TWIANGLE!!" :D :D :D (o meu paizinho toca ferrinhos!!)

Oh boy, that took a while to explain!

 

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A good rule of thumb I learned in my VHS German class: Use 'Sie' with anyone who is or looks over 16 years old and not your friend or relative. I tend to stick with this, except for when someone uses Du with me, then of course I use Du as well - even if it is someone I don't know. My wife once pointed out to me that they used Du with me in a shop and she thought it was weird, but I didn't take notice. Really, who cares? I am American and I work for a large American company here in Berlin, and the unofficial policy is that everyone is Du (not written in any code of conduct, but communicated at new hires orientation). I remember my German colleagues being dumbfounded that it was OK to use Du with colleagues older and more senior than them. It's still a bit weird to me after all of these years that I am expected to address people my own age as 'Frau' or 'Herr'. I always introduce myself with my first name in informal settings. Imagine calling a peer 'Mr' in the US? I'm guessing Sie will eventually fade out - the younger generations seem fine with always using Du.

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5 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

Unsure if I told this story here, but 20 years ago I got stopped by the police in Portugal.

They asked who owned the car, and I said "My father".

They noticed that the car had a circulation tax-free sticker, and asked me "is your daddy handicapped?" (o seu paizinho é deficiente?) ??? :D :D :D

And I said "no, he's a public prossecutor". Instant respect!

 

Problem was, right after that, a friend on the back shouted, in mentally handicapped voice "MY DADDY PWAYS THE TWIANGLE!!" :D :D :D (o meu paizinho toca ferrinhos!!)

Oh boy, that took a while to explain!

 

:lol::lol:

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Well, I'm going on 70 and every German employee in a shop or restaurant around here uses Sie to me.

Every single Turkish employee in a shop or restaurant around here calls me by Du - whether they know me or not. ( That includes German-born Turks with native speaker German. )

Cultural differences. 

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13 hours ago, Chelski said:

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.

 

In the State Kita my children go / went to, it was always informal du / first names with everyone until around three years ago. Then it was requested (demanded) that parents stop using Erzieher/in first names and everything was formal Sie. 

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I may have told this story before, but it still makes me smile.

 

I worked closely with 2 Germans back when I started teaching first, a younger gay man and an older married woman.  At some point, the woman said something that the man really didn't like. He came to me and told me that he was taking the "du" back from her, he was so indignant by what she had said. 

 

I wasn't aware Germans could do that and have never heard of anyone doing it since, but it did make me laugh!

 

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1 hour ago, Fietsrad said:

Always use Sie with police officers!

 

I use Du with little kiddies, they do not know the Du/Sie rules yet. I am glad if they Du me.

Many years ago here in Harburg I knew a policeman from the fitness studio and he came into the office one day to sign up for a pension plan. We were on Du terms and I called him Jan.

 

Some weeks later, he brought his girlfriend - a policewoman - into the office to sign up for the same plan. She went away after the consultation to think about it.

 

I bumped into him at the fitness studio a couple of weeks later and Jan confided to me his girlfriend would not sign up because I had used Du to her during our chat.

 

On a lighter, unrelated note, I agreed to be a witness if required after a minor verbal altercation in a park the other day involving a youngish friend of mine celebrating his mother-in-law's birthday. Two women walking past objected to his barbequeing- one word followed the other - and one of the women called the police.

Interestingly, the woman used the word Schatzi and used the Du word when she called the police.

They arrived and were polite. A male and female, the male looking about 25 and the female about 20.

I asked if the male police officer was related to her. ( The complaining woman). He smiled , pointed to his wedding ring and said : " nein, bin anderswo verheiratet."

I couldn't resist: " also bist Du vorgestraft?"😂

He was ok about it!! I got away with it... age before beauty?😂😂

 

Actually, I don't even know how to address a police officer in German. So I justgoogled this:

 

https://www.noz.de/lokales/melle/artikel/-20543949

 

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In the Max-Planck-Institute (95% has Dr. title) they are on first name basis with each other, otherwise you would constantly use Hr./Fr. Doktor which doesn‘t make sense. 

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1 hour ago, LukeSkywalker said:

In the Max-Planck-Institute (95% has Dr. title) they are on first name basis with each other, otherwise you would constantly use Hr./Fr. Doktor which doesn‘t make sense. 

Exactly, we have 40 PHDs in physics at my 300 person company, so all the top goes on first name basis, so others follow.

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