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Old 08.06.2010, 19:12
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Customary manners in CH

A stupid question again...
I was in New York City the other day, wrapping some stuff up before I leave for CH, and as I opened the door for a lady and received (I thought rather rudely)a lesson in modern feminism. This got me thinking, Just what are customary manners in CH? Will I have my head abruptly removed for holding a door, or offering part of an umbrella etc? I don't want to force courtesy on anyone, and if y'all can give me an idea of some of the norms, I would appreciate it. One last thing... what are the rules regarding hats.
Thanks, M
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Old 08.06.2010, 19:14
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Re: Customary manners in CH

Ha, where do I start?

Part of the fun of moving here is discovering it yourself.

I am sure you will have an abundance of WTF? moments.
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Old 08.06.2010, 19:17
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Re: Customary manners in CH

This link helped me a bit.
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Old 08.06.2010, 19:20
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Re: Customary manners in CH

My guess is you will experience it really differently depending on where you are. If you're in Zürich you will probably not experience that much of common courtesy, but holding a door certainly isn't exceptional, whereas in the area I grew up in you usually greet people on the street when you pass by, even when you don't know them.
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Old 08.06.2010, 19:30
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Re: Customary manners in CH

It is important to master lift manners in Switzerland.

When entering a lift you need to say Gruezi (add "mit und and") if there is more than 1 person.

When leaving the lift you should say goodbye in whatever format you wish - goodbye, adieu, schoene tag/morgen/abend/wochenende depending on the time of day or day of the week.

At lunch when you leave the lift you should say en geute even if you are just going out to a meeting and not eating - they probably are - especially if it is 1130 and they look Swiss.

Failure to do this will have you blacklisted as a "bloody auslander" who doesn't appreciate the Swiss culture.
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:27
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Re: Customary manners in CH

I can't understand those women who go mad on courtesy gesture from men.

It as nothing to do with feminism but with being polite, pleasant and respecful.

I love it! As I like to help old people or pregnant women, I like when a men shows courtesy. They make my day!
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:34
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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I can't understand those women who go mad on courtesy gesture from men.

It as nothing to do with feminism but with being polite, pleasant and respecful.

I love it! As I like to help old people or pregnant women, I like when a men shows courtesy. They make my day!
My impression is "those women who go mad on courtesy gesture from men" have a problem which I have no inclination to share.

Myself after such an experience I simply carry on as before & I do not give it a second thought.
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:37
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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If you're in Zürich you will probably not experience that much of common courtesy
I know Albisrieden probably doesn't count but folks around here are pretty nice so far - and dare I say it just as friendly as those in Basel. Perhaps it changes a bit the closer to Bahnhofstrasse you get.

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:43
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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This link helped me a bit.
That reminded me of the importance of eye contact — when greeting as well as "toasting" (clinking glasses). This post from the past has some useful (and some tongue-in-cheek) pointers (the whole thread is actually one of many here that are peppered with valuable insights).
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:46
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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...I like when a men shows courtesy. They make my day!
Probably not unlike the way it makes my day when a lady simply smiles at me.
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:51
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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Probably not unlike the way it makes my day when a lady simply smiles at me.
I smile a lot!
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Old 08.06.2010, 20:55
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Re: Customary manners in CH

The post by Karl that Texaner refers to above is hilarious! I hadn't realised that the Swiss were quite so formal when entertaining; indeed, I might have thought he was talking about the British (except for the taking off of shoes bit).
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Old 08.06.2010, 21:20
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Re: Customary manners in CH

Where I live now, it would be considered very bad manners not to:
Open a car door for a lady.
Open a regular door for a lady, elderly or disabled person.
Tip your hat.
Say hello to people you pass in the street (within realistic quantity).
Bring a bottle of good whisky to a dinner party. (I don't do wine)
Pick up the check for a lunch/dinner.
Hold the elevator
Hold the door for anyone right behind you.
Take off your hat indoors.
Do not fart in public EVER.
Now I know that Katy, Texas is not Zurich, but I'm going to try these and see how it goes. Do I really have to greet everybody on the elevator, or are you pulling my leg?
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Old 08.06.2010, 21:33
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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...Do I really have to greet everybody on the elevator, or are you pulling my leg?
Not each one individually, but yes.

"Grüezi mitenand" = "howdy/hello y'all" and is fairly normal. It's also what you say to others when you meet on the street — not in the big city, but in outlying towns, villages, and on most forest and mountain paths.

"Grüezi" = "howdy/hello" (singular). That's what you say to an individual.

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...Pick up the check for a lunch/dinner...
Typically among the Swiss, the person who invited pays. While there's come to be some room for some fudging there, beware that many Swiss still take it seriously: If they invited you they fully expect to pay (I have had one or two people get borderline offended when I simply offered to pay). And of course if you invite someone, it's a good idea to plan on paying.
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Old 08.06.2010, 21:54
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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A stupid question again...
I was in New York City the other day, wrapping some stuff up before I leave for CH, and as I opened the door for a lady and received (I thought rather rudely)a lesson in modern feminism. This got me thinking, Just what are customary manners in CH? Will I have my head abruptly removed for holding a door, or offering part of an umbrella etc? I don't want to force courtesy on anyone, and if y'all can give me an idea of some of the norms, I would appreciate it. One last thing... what are the rules regarding hats.
Thanks, M
Keeping the door open for a lady or anybody is good behaviour in Zurich, BUT you have to be aware of the unbelievably many folks who forget all behaviours and manners out of carelessness, stupidness, dullness, or because they are drunk.
At the other hand, in situations where New Yorkers (rightly possibly) will tell a person to be an idiot, this is not the way here, you tell the person that it is not the way you like it.

But to keep the door open for the next one will show that you are a man of "niveau" and "culture".


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It is important to master lift manners in Switzerland.

When entering a lift you need to say Gruezi (add "mit und and") if there is more than 1 person.

When leaving the lift you should say goodbye in whatever format you wish - goodbye, adieu, schoene tag/morgen/abend/wochenende depending on the time of day or day of the week.

At lunch when you leave the lift you should say en geute even if you are just going out to a meeting and not eating - they probably are - especially if it is 1130 and they look Swiss.

Failure to do this will have you blacklisted as a "bloody auslander" who doesn't appreciate the Swiss culture.
Just some minor adjustments. It is Grüezi mitänand and not "en geute" but än Guäte but when leaving the lift you nowaday can wish simply än Schöne

Last edited by Wollishofener; 08.06.2010 at 22:24.
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Old 08.06.2010, 22:06
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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Just some minor adjustments. It is Grüezi mitänand and not "en geute" but än Guäte but when leaving the lift you nowaday can wish simply än Schöne
Fussy git

I always walk road side of my wife - about as old fashioned as you get
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Old 08.06.2010, 22:07
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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That reminded me of the importance of eye contact — when greeting as well as "toasting" (clinking glasses). This post from the past has some useful (and some tongue-in-cheek) pointers (the whole thread is actually one of many here that are peppered with valuable insights).
Quite correct, except the part of the shoes. Do NOT take off your shoes ! Unless you see that the hosts are around without. To wear some kind of slippers (Pantoffeln) is the privilege of the host, but guests are expected have their shoes on, unless the shoes got dirty for whatever reason.


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Where I live now, it would be considered very bad manners not to:
Open a car door for a lady.
Open a regular door for a lady, elderly or disabled person.
Tip your hat.
Say hello to people you pass in the street (within realistic quantity).
Bring a bottle of good whisky to a dinner party. (I don't do wine)
Pick up the check for a lunch/dinner.
Hold the elevator
Hold the door for anyone right behind you.
Take off your hat indoors.
Do not fart in public EVER.
Now I know that Katy, Texas is not Zurich, but I'm going to try these and see how it goes. Do I really have to greet everybody on the elevator, or are you pulling my leg?
No pulling legs ! To say Grüezi mitänand ( simply Grüezi or Grüezi wohl in case there is just one person in the lift) is a requirement . An English Hello or a French Bonjour / Bonsoir is tolerated in places like Zurich, but not so much in more rural areas.

And, sorry, you are NOT expected to bring liqueurs or spirits with you, while Portwine is alright
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Old 08.06.2010, 22:14
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Re: Customary manners in CH

I've found Zurich people to be lot more friendly and polite than my last location but that was London so perhaps it's not quite such a surprise. People say Guten Morgen to me in the street here in Wiedikon and that hasn't happened since I lived in the north of England.

The lift thing was a surprise though. I still haven't got used to that. It's a strict rule of English lift usage that you do not acknowledge other people in any way whatsoever.
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Old 08.06.2010, 22:35
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Re: Customary manners in CH

Never hurts to be polite..Open the door
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Old 08.06.2010, 22:40
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Re: Customary manners in CH

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A stupid question again...
I was in New York City the other day, wrapping some stuff up before I leave for CH, and as I opened the door for a lady and received (I thought rather rudely)a lesson in modern feminism.

You probably opened the door too slowly.
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