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Old 24.09.2021, 20:51
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

Since you've described several situations in which you think people were especially rude to you, I've wondered whether you're doing something - inadvertently - that causes offence, and that that might be setting people off to be rude to you.

For example:
  • Did you know that when you arrive somewhere, whether it's the doctor's waiting room, or the corner bakery, or the sports field or the garage, the norm is for the person arriving to greet those already present? In some countries it works the other way round, and those present should greet the person who enters. Here, as you arrive, the polite thing to do is to say: "Grüezi Mittenand" (literally "greetings all together") and nod slightly and turn your head a bit to look vaguely at the people around you, or else, if there is only one person there, just "Grüezi".

  • If, for example, you enter the office of the municipality to enquire about how to register your car, and if you don't say "Grüezi" as you enter the building, to anyone standing or sitting there (including to the doorman or security officer, if there is one) then you'd already be being rude. If you then walk up to the counter, and don't greet the officer behind the glass with another "Grüezi" (or at least "Guten Tag"), but simply start speaking, directly: "I'd like to know how to register my car," then it is likely that you will have caused offence. Even if you didn't intend to do so.

  • Similarly, if the person explains only part of the procedure, or gives you a form, it is polite to thank them for that information. That motivates them to tell you the next part. It is normal to thank them even if they're telling you that they can't help you because this isn't the right office and that you should go elsewhere. If you thank them, smile and explain, in German, that you're new and are trying to learn the right way to do things, then you may very well find that they become kind enough to look up the address of the other office for you.

  • It is also considered good manners to remove your hat or cap when you enter a building.

  • Some countries work with strict, disciplined queues. Switzerland has shifted a bit more towards that, through the covid measures, but it is not generally a culture of queues. Instead, each person arriving (at, say the cheese counter, or at the bakery) looks around and takes note of who is ahead of them, and waits their turn. If the shop assistant is uncertain, he may ask: "Who's next?" and then it is the right thing to say: "The woman in the blue jacket was ahead of me,". This is so even if the shop assistant made a mistake and first turned to you. Then, the well-mannered response it to turn to the other customer and say: "You were here before me," and signal, with a open palm, that they are welcome to step up to the counter before you, as this is their clear right. Likewise, if you know you were somewhere before another person, but they go first, you can either just let it be and do nothing, which is perfectly fine, or say: "Entschuldigung, ich warte schon," or "ich war vor Ihnen hier," and the other customer will very likely apologise and let you take your rightful turn.

  • Similarly, you need to be alert to the fact that, at some places, it might be the norm for you to remove your shoes. This is not the case in formal situations, such as entering a government office. It can be the case in private homes, but also sometimes in some rooms of a school or sports facility, or in a physiotherapist's or chiropractor's practice. It is polite to look around and see what the others are doing, and also respectful to ask whether the hosts would prefer you to take off your shoes. This is even more so in bad weather when the shoes may be muddy, wet or covered in snow. To be prepared for this at all times, keep your feet well groomed and wear socks with no holes.

  • Another thing that can cause offence it to simply begin to speak any non-local language with someone, without first checking that they're okay with that. This is particularly important for teachers at schools. It's a much better policy to start out in German, go as far as you can in in it, and if/when your vocabulary fails you, to apologise, and say you're still learning, and only then say that you'll have to try in English, and ask whether they can understand that. Likewise, first listen, in German, as far as you can, and ask the person to speak slowly, if you need that, and to write down any key words for you, so that you can look them up, later, and learn them.

  • Did you know that in many circumstances in Switzerland it is considered rude to speak loudly? In some countries, speaking quietly is considered rude, because it may come across as conspiratorial or exclusory. Here, however, the volume of one's speech is considered reasonable if it can be heard by the person you're speaking to, and perhaps the person next to them, but not much further.

  • When you leave a person or a place, you're supposed to say good-bye, too, and not just walk away unannounced. If you're in a group, you're supposed to show, with your body language, (standing up, slowly putting on your jacket, picking up your bags) and a sentence or two, including thanks for the meal, or the conversation, that you'll soon be leaving, and going away abruptly is not polite.

  • While in Germany "Tschüss" can be used in both formal and informal situations, in Switzerland "Tschüss" is only for people with whom you speak "per Du", i.e. on informal terms, and it is bad manners to use it for anyone with whom you are "per Sie", i.e. on formal terms. For those people, you use: "Adé" (a contraction of a-dieu) or "auf Wiedersehen".

Last edited by doropfiz; 24.09.2021 at 21:24.
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  #42  
Old 24.09.2021, 22:01
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Hi, I would be happy to hear your thoughts and if I should do anything.

I already got nice Tips here in the EF but yes, I am aware I could get now some rude Comments, no problem, free of Speech

Sometimes my Kids go to School alone, sometimes with me with Bike and today my small one was in a hurry so she asked I take her with the Car.

I dropped her on the Road beside (like I noticed many Parents do that) and then she called me cause she did not know where to go, so I told her and I stood beside the Car waiting to see all OK.

During this Time, I see a Father (probably, as he was with a Kid) driving beside me back and forth (I did not bother his Lane) so I smiled. Then he came and in English and quite strong he said "you can not stand here, u should go park the Car) I said Ok and smiled, then he said "do it now" I said OK, but you are standing in front, I will go, then he said very strong almost shouting "NOW" and then he took a Picture of my License Plate with his Phone... I was shocked.

So, now what? To start with, I came later just to make sure, 6 Cars after me did exactly the same, I also looked for a sign that says dropping Kids there is not allowed, I did not see (maybe my German is so bad, who knows)... Should I go to the Police before this Civilian Police is sending my Plate to who knows where in Switzerland?

I asked several Neighbours (Foreigners) they all said its ok, just ignore this stupid Person. I should write a Book about my experiences here

And seriously, maybe this nice loving Person is here in the EF, a bit kindness, a bit good Morning, a bit sense of easiness between People did not kill anyone up to date.

I live since 16 years on the 4th floor in a nice, very quiet neighbourhood in Kreis 6 about 10 mins walk from the HB. On taking a breather through my window last week during WFH, was fascinated to watch a 4WD drive-up on the pavement in front of the renowned pasta house on the corner. Parked diagonally across the sidewalk / pavement / Trottoir.

Not 180 seconds after I had happened to notice this, a traffic controller / police officer was in place, on the scene. They not only issued a parking ticket, but also took photos of the car and their position to the kerb of the offending vehicle from many surrounding angles (at least 6). The mother emerged after after her offense from the delicatessen around 15 minutes later, and then tended to her awaiting children in the back of the 4WD.

Frankly, and maybe I’ve been living here for too long, I really felt like applauding the person issuing the ticket.
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  #43  
Old 24.09.2021, 22:25
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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This too.

And laugh it off, Tom, when certain behaviours don't make sense to you.

Yes, some folks here exhibit a desire to control and reinforce rules that sometimes seem a tad ridiculous to us, but TIS. I always say the country wouldn't look and function like it does if it weren't for these things and they had a more laissez-faire attitude.

So take each place with its good and bad.
Yes! That puts it all into a nutshell! Switzerland (and us Swiss / UK) can drive you to the point of insanity. Day in, day out - I’ve tried avoiding it, but it’s unfortunately unavoidable.

That’s the price we pay for living in a relatively ‘safe’ place, where are children can walk to school on their own, and women don’t need to hold their keys between their fingers when walking home.

For now. And everyone hopes that it stays that way.
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  #44  
Old 25.09.2021, 23:21
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Yes! That puts it all into a nutshell! Switzerland (and us Swiss / UK) can drive you to the point of insanity. Day in, day out - I’ve tried avoiding it, but it’s unfortunately unavoidable.

That’s the price we pay for living in a relatively ‘safe’ place, where are children can walk to school on their own, and women don’t need to hold their keys between their fingers when walking home.

For now. And everyone hopes that it stays that way.
I wonder if you really believe that woman and children are only safe here. For sure there are not so nice places here same as in other places around the globe. Or am i wrong?
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  #45  
Old 25.09.2021, 23:37
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Since you've described several situations in which you think people were especially rude to you, I've wondered whether you're doing something - inadvertently - that causes offence, and that that might be setting people off to be rude to you.

For example:
  • Did you know that when you arrive somewhere, whether it's the doctor's waiting room, or the corner bakery, or the sports field or the garage, the norm is for the person arriving to greet those already present? In some countries it works the other way round, and those present should greet the person who enters. Here, as you arrive, the polite thing to do is to say: "Grüezi Mittenand" (literally "greetings all together") and nod slightly and turn your head a bit to look vaguely at the people around you, or else, if there is only one person there, just "Grüezi".

  • If, for example, you enter the office of the municipality to enquire about how to register your car, and if you don't say "Grüezi" as you enter the building, to anyone standing or sitting there (including to the doorman or security officer, if there is one) then you'd already be being rude. If you then walk up to the counter, and don't greet the officer behind the glass with another "Grüezi" (or at least "Guten Tag"), but simply start speaking, directly: "I'd like to know how to register my car," then it is likely that you will have caused offence. Even if you didn't intend to do so.

  • Similarly, if the person explains only part of the procedure, or gives you a form, it is polite to thank them for that information. That motivates them to tell you the next part. It is normal to thank them even if they're telling you that they can't help you because this isn't the right office and that you should go elsewhere. If you thank them, smile and explain, in German, that you're new and are trying to learn the right way to do things, then you may very well find that they become kind enough to look up the address of the other office for you.

  • It is also considered good manners to remove your hat or cap when you enter a building.

  • Some countries work with strict, disciplined queues. Switzerland has shifted a bit more towards that, through the covid measures, but it is not generally a culture of queues. Instead, each person arriving (at, say the cheese counter, or at the bakery) looks around and takes note of who is ahead of them, and waits their turn. If the shop assistant is uncertain, he may ask: "Who's next?" and then it is the right thing to say: "The woman in the blue jacket was ahead of me,". This is so even if the shop assistant made a mistake and first turned to you. Then, the well-mannered response it to turn to the other customer and say: "You were here before me," and signal, with a open palm, that they are welcome to step up to the counter before you, as this is their clear right. Likewise, if you know you were somewhere before another person, but they go first, you can either just let it be and do nothing, which is perfectly fine, or say: "Entschuldigung, ich warte schon," or "ich war vor Ihnen hier," and the other customer will very likely apologise and let you take your rightful turn.

  • Similarly, you need to be alert to the fact that, at some places, it might be the norm for you to remove your shoes. This is not the case in formal situations, such as entering a government office. It can be the case in private homes, but also sometimes in some rooms of a school or sports facility, or in a physiotherapist's or chiropractor's practice. It is polite to look around and see what the others are doing, and also respectful to ask whether the hosts would prefer you to take off your shoes. This is even more so in bad weather when the shoes may be muddy, wet or covered in snow. To be prepared for this at all times, keep your feet well groomed and wear socks with no holes.

  • Another thing that can cause offence it to simply begin to speak any non-local language with someone, without first checking that they're okay with that. This is particularly important for teachers at schools. It's a much better policy to start out in German, go as far as you can in in it, and if/when your vocabulary fails you, to apologise, and say you're still learning, and only then say that you'll have to try in English, and ask whether they can understand that. Likewise, first listen, in German, as far as you can, and ask the person to speak slowly, if you need that, and to write down any key words for you, so that you can look them up, later, and learn them.

  • Did you know that in many circumstances in Switzerland it is considered rude to speak loudly? In some countries, speaking quietly is considered rude, because it may come across as conspiratorial or exclusory. Here, however, the volume of one's speech is considered reasonable if it can be heard by the person you're speaking to, and perhaps the person next to them, but not much further.

  • When you leave a person or a place, you're supposed to say good-bye, too, and not just walk away unannounced. If you're in a group, you're supposed to show, with your body language, (standing up, slowly putting on your jacket, picking up your bags) and a sentence or two, including thanks for the meal, or the conversation, that you'll soon be leaving, and going away abruptly is not polite.

  • While in Germany "Tschüss" can be used in both formal and informal situations, in Switzerland "Tschüss" is only for people with whom you speak "per Du", i.e. on informal terms, and it is bad manners to use it for anyone with whom you are "per Sie", i.e. on formal terms. For those people, you use: "Adé" (a contraction of a-dieu) or "auf Wiedersehen".
Thank you for the deep letter. I hope you did not write all this just for me. Interesting points, just wonder how come everything seems here so "picky" and so like.... important? I lived already in 3 Countries before and people were easy there with foreigners, only here seems everything should be exact and 100%.

Asking first if they speak the language? well, sure in some scenarios, but around people in the playground / kids football / parents and so on.. sorry this just screams "coldness" to me - i guess it all depends where u come from.

What is common in Japan or Asia I guess is not common in Spain / Italy ect.

Life should be taken a bit more easy, just a tip.
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  #46  
Old 26.09.2021, 02:37
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Thank you for the deep letter. I hope you did not write all this just for me. Interesting points, just wonder how come everything seems here so "picky" and so like.... important? I lived already in 3 Countries before and people were easy there with foreigners, only here seems everything should be exact and 100%.

...
Life should be taken a bit more easy, just a tip.
Yes, I did write it specifically for you.

It seems to me that you're suffering from the lack of casual, easy-going, chatty, friendly, warm conversations, when compared to where you've lived before. I get that. This just isn't the culture in which people engage with the person in the supermarket, laugh with the man from the office across the road, or even start a friendship in the queue at the post office.

There are different ways that immigrants deal with the stiffness, and what you feel to be picky, and the fact that there are rules, or at least acceptable norms, for just about everything.
  • Some rail against the system, criticising or or at least questioning it (which you are doing, now)
  • Some embrace it fully and become model Swiss, more swissified than any Swiss person ever was.

In between those positions are
  • sulky and powerless capitulation, coupled with, perhaps, some loss of identity, or the will to live
  • enthusiastic and joyous exploration of the glorious things Switzerland has to offer: mountains, lakes, trains, cheese, art
  • feeling trapped and deceived
  • desperate, yearning homesickness, possibly with some over-romanticism of how wonderful things were back in other-country
  • determination to make the best of it, and try to focus on the positives
  • leaving
  • gradual acceptance.

It seems to me that each immigrant to Switzerland goes through several of these positions, and they shift and return in waves.

What helps me with the "acceptance" part - in addition to what I wrote a few posts ago about getting my head around the fact that it's "here" not "there", and that the locals don't have to (and won't) change for me - is appreciating the huge benefit that is the flip-side of all this rule-mindedness: Things Work.
  • If a street-light is out if order one can phone to report it to someone who competently makes the report, such that the electrician will be there and fix it within a day or two.
  • One gets lists from the schools of dates and times and phone numbers - and they are accurate.
  • The public transport is (mostly) punctual and clean.
  • The info on www.ch.ch will pilot one through lots of aspects of everyday life, and help to learn the vocabulary to look up the laws, which are written clearly, in some cases even with a courtesy (non-binding) translation into English.
  • People are reliable and keep appointments as they said they would.
Such matters keep things stable, and perhaps a little boring, (drama-free) yet eliminate a lot of stressors, because it's reasonable to trust that it will work out as described. That's rather relaxing.
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  #47  
Old 26.09.2021, 11:36
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Yes, I did write it specifically for you.

I am impressed! This is really an excellent guide to some of the most important etiquette in Switzerland.



I am also surprised by Tom's reaction: "Interesting points, just wonder how come everything seems here so "picky" and so like.... important"


It is hard to underestimate how important these things are. There are societies that are high EQ and low EQ, but I think Switzerland ranks up there. You can 'forget' to do something and actually cause a lot of offense even before you've started.




Edit: Sorry, you must accept just my thanks. "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to doropfiz again."
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  #48  
Old 26.09.2021, 15:27
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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[*]While in Germany "Tschüss" can be used in both formal and informal situations, in Switzerland "Tschüss" is only for people with whom you speak "per Du", i.e. on informal terms, and it is bad manners to use it for anyone with whom you are "per Sie", i.e. on formal terms. For those people, you use: "Adé" (a contraction of a-dieu) or "auf Wiedersehen".
Tschüss and Adé/Adieu are tricky, Tschüss depending on intonation and Adieu/Adé outside of Canton Bern can be used, and often are, with the meaning of "don't bother coming back" or outright "good riddance". I'd suggest to avoid using those two.

There's no such ambiguity with Auf Wiedersehen and Uf Widerluëge, that always means "'til next time", "looking forward to having you back".
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Old 26.09.2021, 15:41
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Thank you for the deep letter. I hope you did not write all this just for me. Interesting points, just wonder how come everything seems here so "picky" and so like.... important? I lived already in 3 Countries before and people were easy there with foreigners, only here seems everything should be exact and 100%.
The why is irrelevant, it is what and how it is.

Another point doropfiz didn't mention:
Your "what I'm used to" and "elsewhere it's XYZ" are basically an attempt to tell people how they should act, think and behave, and to boss them around. That's the fastest and surest way to antagonise pretty much everybody without explicitly insulting them.
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Asking first if they speak the language? well, sure in some scenarios, but around people in the playground / kids football / parents and so on.. sorry this just screams "coldness" to me - i guess it all depends where u come from.
You do realise that that Albanian father is (was) a foreigner himself? His broken German, which you expressed rather well btw, clearly shows he's first generation. Instead of battling him you should learn from him, he was a newcomer once, too.

That aside, unwillingness to give back and share what you learnt on here speaks rather poorly of yourself. Regardless of what you're used from elsewhere.
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Old 26.09.2021, 16:05
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Tschüss and Adé/Adieu are tricky, Tschüss depending on intonation and Adieu/Adé outside of Canton Bern can be used, and often are, with the meaning of "don't bother coming back" or outright "good riddance". I'd suggest to avoid using those two.

There's no such ambiguity with Auf Wiedersehen and Uf Widerluëge, that always means "'til next time", "looking forward to having you back".
Interesting, wasn't aware of this.
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Old 26.09.2021, 16:21
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

Max is right. Intonation and context are everything, with context being most important.

Last edited by olygirl; 26.09.2021 at 18:37.
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Old 26.09.2021, 18:25
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Edit: Sorry, you must accept just my thanks. "You must spread some Reputation around before giving it again."
Go on, spread some around. This is a good time.
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Old 26.09.2021, 18:28
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Tschüss and Adé/Adieu are tricky, Tschüss depending on intonation and Adieu/Adé outside of Canton Bern can be used, and often are, with the meaning of "don't bother coming back" or outright "good riddance". I'd suggest to avoid using those two.

There's no such ambiguity with Auf Wiedersehen and Uf Widerluëge, that always means "'til next time", "looking forward to having you back".
Yes, thank you for pointing this out. You're right.

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Intonation and context are everything, with context being most important.
Yes, and until one's been here for a while, and one's ear and voice are trained to differentiate, I'd agree, just rather use Auf Wiedersehen and Uf Widerluëge.
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Old 26.09.2021, 19:12
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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Interesting, wasn't aware of this.
IME Tschüss is complicated, and it may be one of the cases where age matters because usage and meaning have shifted. When Germans use their versions of the same though, Tschüssy or Tschüss-chen, that's always friendly and (somewhat) informal.

And to increase the potential confusion even further, Bernese dialect speakers often use Tschau as a greeting rather than to say goodbye like everybody else.

Better sidestep that potential pitfall altogether until you're on solid footing. And perhaps ask those who use it how it's meant when.
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Old 26.09.2021, 19:30
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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It's typical for Germans to do this.

Tom
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Old 27.09.2021, 17:39
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Re: My License Plate was pictured He He.

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It's typical for Germans to do this.

Tom
Not really clear to me what typical behaviour the Tshermans are accused of but I'd like to point out: isn't that just typical!
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