Being to German

By 21. Februar 2009 No Comments

A thank you to Helen, the only British Lady in my team. A true story to spread around please.

„Helen, I want to tell you a little story. Since you are on the EWMD board I like to open your e-mails because they are so nice, warm and always full of caring and good mind. There has never been a harsh word in it and I enjoy this so much. You know there are some „germanic“ emails, when you open it, the text hits you like a fist. It is jumping at you like a frog and feels equaliy cold and wet. I remember times, when I did not open the e-mails of one lady just for this reasons, it was always the last e-mail from all the others.

I have tried to reflect on that for my own „e-mail-literature“ and since than I read my emails again on „politeness“ before I send them out – not just the spell check. Usually I need to rewrite the first sentences to start in a more nice and friendly way before coming to the points …. Germans like to be polite when the facts are on the table, but this reads very bitter and I could imagine that some people never get down to the part where it is more nicely ….

Last week I met my old friend Gisela and she is working a lot with Latin America. She complained about the „machismo“ culture and that she cannot stand the „compliments“ they start the conversation with. „I am their boss – so we can really work without this „men-women“ talk. I have not time for that – we need to come straight on the points here!“  I smiled and said: „Politeness is not a question of time, but of attitude.“ We talked about it for a while and she got an idea that I might be right and that her partner in Columbia thinks she is a terrible old German bitch.

Today I have received an email from her and the message sank into her heart: She has discussed the issues with her Spanish teacher, who is born and raised in Germany. When he read her emails, he told her: If I would receive such an e-mail from you, I would think that you are really not feeling well at all.“ So now both have a new lesson to learn: How to write nice and polite emails, being a women and not a bitch, being a boss but with heart and feelings.

I hope we could spread this message around to more people of German culture – just to think about it. A nice sentence does not cost any time 🙂

Helen thanks for your teaching me …  Claudia

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