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Old 26.02.2007, 11:27
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Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

Hello everyone

I was in the train the other day, looking for a seat and when you make eye contact with someone who's already sitting down they seem to look at you as if "what do you wan't?" why is there so much aggression here? Even on the streets it's the same!

If I could get your idea's on this topic would be nice to see what you all think of this or has it ever occurred to you and you haven't dared to say anything?

Thanks for your replys in advance
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Old 26.02.2007, 11:51
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore?

I also have experienced what feels like hostility or aggression and it has been the hardest thing for me to come to grips with. I walk along the Rhein and rarely does anyone acknowledge you and if they do it is 99% of the time in a hostile tone... I miss walking in Sydney and having everyone who passes you say a friendly hello, how are you, what a beautiful day etc... apart from the children you are all friendly and smiling there doesnt seem to be many happy friendly people around. My husband says it may be the area we are in?
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Old 26.02.2007, 11:53
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore?

maybe they see you as some threatening lunatic and hope you move to the next carriage

I just read your earlier comment on road rage and wondered if there was a connection between the 2 threads
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Old 26.02.2007, 11:54
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Quote:
My husband says it may be the area we are in?
Well I don't know I live at Vevey and at Sion to Lausanne I've always experianced this!

Quote:
I just read your earlier comment on road rage and wondered if there was a connection between the 2 threads
LOL maybe's but I think not, with the road rage bit^^ diden't swear kept calm but was boiling inside. Don't show my emotions to people, I do that when i go boxing at the gym, take a quick photo with mobile phone stick it on the punching ball and of we go lol

Last edited by evilshell; 26.02.2007 at 13:27.
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Old 26.02.2007, 11:58
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore?

As I put in another thread, you can get what appears to be rudeness in London and other big cities. I haven't found any rudeness or aggression in Switzerland, on the contrary everybody has been very friendly and welcoming.

If you feel that everybody is being cold towards you, maybe you should look at the common denominator....
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Old 26.02.2007, 12:04
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore?

Quote:
I haven't found any rudeness or aggression in Switzerland, on the contrary everybody has been very friendly and welcoming.
Wow- you've never found and rudeness or aggression in Switzerland? That's quite an achievement, I think I'll move to Flumserberg.

I think it's fair to say that both goes on - there are many friendly and welcoming people here. There are also plenty of rude and aggressive people, like in most places. But I have found a few situations (like staring, being rudely abused for asking someone to move bags from a train seat, etc.) which I find incredibly rude that DON'T happen elsewhere, and I'm sure I'm not the only person to make that observation...
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Old 26.02.2007, 12:51
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

Yes I have met alot of lovely welcoming people and our neighbours are kind and friendly toward us but the general vibe on the street seems to be more hostile and often aggressive which I havent found in other countries.
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Old 26.02.2007, 12:52
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore?

Quote:
Wow- you've never found and rudeness or aggression in Switzerland? That's quite an achievement, I think I'll move to Flumserberg.
Amen. People don't acknowledge you at all.... I go for a walk everyday and always (out of habit) say hi/ gruezi to people and they pass by like they don't hear/ see me. Amazing. I must be invisible AND speak in an inaudible frequency range. Humiliated thus, I now try hard to ignore, but that seems very very odd to me. Atleast as of now.

Even worse, when you sit across from someone on a train, not only do they refuse to smile/ acknowledge (even after you have done both), they continue to stare... maybe it's just me. But hey, I am just trying to be courteous!

However, since I am new (yet), I would like to give my host country the benefit of doubt, hence I have put it down to the generally shy nature of people here (probably a cultural thing, is what I tell myself).

Having said that, I must say (based on my extremely limited experience) that the younger generation of Swiss are generally friendly, and do have some basic social skills.

Flumserberg, here I come.
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:01
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore?

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Amen. People don't acknowledge you at all.... I go for a walk everyday and always (out of habit) say hi/ gruezi to people and they pass by like they don't hear/ see me. Amazing. I must be invisible AND speak in an inaudible frequency range.
I wouldn't take that as a reflection of rudeness. That simply means that you might be on the wrong side of the "Grüezigrenze" (this is a made up word I use which describes an imaginary border which determines whether strangers will greet you in public).

You see where I live I'm not in the city itself, but I'm close to it. I seem to be on the wrong side of the grüezigrenze so when I occassionaly forget this and greet people I'm sometimes ignored. This is a similiar dynamic that plays out all over the world - try greeting a Londoner or New Yorker and see what happens.

But rest assured, when walking in less populated areas you'd better get your grüezi ready and make sure it is well polished - you'll need it.
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:13
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

Thats true... in the woods EVERYONE has a friendly grüezi for you!!! Just never ever down along the Rhein or in town. When I am with my kids people stare but are friendly as well, on the train an old Swiss man whipped out his swiss army knife for me to cut off the balloon tied around my sons wrist (illegal in Australia - the knife not the balloon), he was lovely... and the old Swiss ladies on the bus grab my youngest and hug him all the time!
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:23
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

I havent had such a big experience of the swiss version of street manners but i found Basel and Engelberg to be welcoming.

I don't expect people to say hello whenever i go out in Strasbourg or back in the UK...and if i speak english then i imagine people would stare just as people might if i were to speak Swiss German in the UK.

I think it is partially due to shyness and being discrete but i never had rudeness...but then again i havent been to switzerland enough and is why i am here to learn more!

Richard
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:24
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

It's clear from this forum that there are rude people in Switzerland, but as you say Mark, it would be the same in any big city. All I can say is really I haven't encountered any and I've been on my own in Zurich a few times for meetings and met plenty of folk there and here in the sticks.

It's true what you say about greetings in less populated areas, in the town of Flums EVERYBODY says grüezi to me - it can become quite monotonous - but also very endearing.

I've spent plenty of time in Madrid and nothern Spain and the staring there is something that can't be beaten. At first it was disconcerting but I soon realised they weren't being rude, just curious (I'm 6ft and fair so stand out as a foreigner). I soon found if I wished them a pleasant good day in Spanish they became really friendly. As I have said elsewhere, very few people go out of thier way to be rude, but everybody has grumpy moments, it doesn't mean they are grumpy or rude all the time, or everyone from that country is rude.

I am sure a Swiss person will be rude to me one day and I'll report it here straight away (actually I have had some serious aggression here, but that was from my Swiss girlfriend - but I guess I deserved it)
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:30
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

This is the opposite of many places where people avoid eye contact. Think of the tube in London or any lift you've been in.

But do a small test; when you think someone's looking at you, stick your tongue out at them and see if they notice
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:42
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

The thing is Switzerland is not a big city... its a country made up of cities, towns, villages etc... I would never expect anyone in any city to say hello randomly on the street but when you pass someone just you and them you expect something other then a nasty stare/glare or a hostile grüezi which happens all too often.
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:49
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

OK, time for some "Swiss Politeness 101".

Train, going for a vacant seat:
You make eye contact, then *silence*
Swiss opposite gives you a non-verbal, aggressive, "what!?"

That's because you've broken the ritual.

Ritual: "Isch dä Platz no frei?" "Cette place est prise?" FOLLOWED by eye contact.
a) Swissie mumbles something indicating it's free barely looking up.
You take the seat. You *both* ignore each other. (If we're in the mood to chat, we'll chat, if we're not, we won't, something to do with private thoughts, busy reading a book/newspaper or just in the mood to vacantly stare out the window. It's nothing personal.)
b) Swissie speaks in full coherent phrases, makes eye contact and starts making social noises.
Jump on it! This one's not busy and in the mood for some chitchat.

Out for a walk in the city:
You greet, nobody greets back.
Um, we're not out here for fun or for social opportunities.
We're busy! Going from A to B, shopping, catching the train, thinking about which route will get us fastest, in the limited time available, through whatever it is that we have planned.
Greeting is then an intrusion, an obstacle to navigation.

Out for a walk in the woods:
You greet, (guesstimate) 2/3rds greet back.
-> We're *not* busy, we're on leisure time, enjoying life etc.
-> We're busy (hiking! last bus to catch!) but doing something we enjoy.

The 1/3rd not greeting back: plain ignore them.

Fact is, for a foreigner it can be a bit hard to recognize if whoever you encounter will greet back. I usually go by body language and apparent laugh wrinkles around the eyes.
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Old 26.02.2007, 13:57
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

I never greet anyone verbally but always smile as I pass and greet them back if they greet me... it can be hard to get used to the differences esp when they are sooo vaste as in this case... Im an attractive blonde from Sydney and EVERYONE would greet me there... attractive seems to count for nothing here... in fact even the opposite!! On my plain days people are much nicer then on my wow days esp say, bus inspectors or officials of any kind!!
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Old 26.02.2007, 14:03
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

Quote:
Im an attractive blonde from Sydney and EVERYONE would greet me there... attractive seems to count for nothing here... in fact even the opposite!! On my plain days people are much nicer then on my wow days esp say, bus inspectors or officials of any kind!!
Even on my plain days I have to fight all the girls off. On a Drop Dead Gorgeous day I daren't leave the house
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Old 26.02.2007, 14:06
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

Attractive counts for everything where I come from.

Give me a call.


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Old 26.02.2007, 14:10
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

In Zurich they love me but here... they just like uggos!
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Old 26.02.2007, 14:17
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Re: Why can't you look people in the eyes anymore? [aggression in Swiss society]

I am surprised you leave your mirror long enough to go out and be greeted.
dave


Quote:
I never greet anyone verbally but always smile as I pass and greet them back if they greet me... Im an attractive blonde from Sydney and EVERYONE would greet me there... attractive seems to count for nothing here... in fact even the opposite!! On my plain days people are much nicer then on my wow days esp say, bus inspectors or officials of any kind!!
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