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I'm a native German speaker, but I still would like to know your opinion about this.

What is the best and politest way to ask someone or tell someone to use "Sie" instead of "Du"?

In some cases I find it disturbing that some people (especially in Apple stores) strictly use the "Du" form instead of "Sie".

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Welcome to apple family, eine schrecklich nette Familie! – Hauser Sep 6 '11 at 17:52
@Hauser: A "magical" family, if you look at any ad from them (where they also say "Du", by the way) ;) – OregonGhost Sep 7 '11 at 8:11
@OregonGhost: it's the same at ikea. I think the idea is to imply the customer can trust them because, hey, they are already "perdu"... – Tobias Kienzler Sep 7 '11 at 9:07
@Oregon "Wenn du keine Manieren hast, dann hast du keine Manieren!" ;) – Hauser Sep 7 '11 at 10:48
@Hauser: "There's a question for that!" :D – OregonGhost Sep 7 '11 at 16:49
up vote 26 down vote accepted

Just ignore the "Du" and reply using "Sie".

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+1, only solution. Many of them will get it when it annoys them. Note that in certain settings (e.g. the mentioned Apple stores), the poor souls are trained to use "Du" - don't be too harsh to them :) – OregonGhost Sep 6 '11 at 13:29
but exactly at this point, when the other person says something like "kannst much ruhisch dutzen", EXACTLY at this point, how do i tell it then :) – Herr Sep 6 '11 at 22:14
@Herr Kaleun: That's the point: Just continue to say "Sie" to them. They will eventually get it. If they insist on offering the "Du" to you, they are impolite. – OregonGhost Sep 7 '11 at 8:10
Herr Kaleun, man kann auch sagen: Ich verstehe, aber wissen Sie, ich bin ein bißchen altmodisch, und möchte mir selbst aussuchen, wen ich duze, nehmen Sie es mir nicht krumm, gell? – Ingo Sep 8 '11 at 8:40
@Herr Kaleun: On "kannst much ruhisch dutzen", I would answer something like "Im geschäftlichen Umfeld bevorzuge ich das Siezen" if I'm in a store. That way, you make clear that you don't object to du-ing him but to du-ing in a business setting in general. – Heinzi Sep 8 '11 at 13:04

IMO there is no really polite way to (directly) say this, because there will always be a undertone of "I don't like you that much" whether it is true or not. Addressing a salesperson using "Sie" yourself is worth a try.

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for salespersons the undertone might more be "I don't know you that much (yet)" – Tobias Kienzler Sep 7 '11 at 9:05

IMO, the problem mainly arises in a professional environment when you work with somebody for several days, weeks, or ...

In the Apple store it's a bit pointless, as it is a singular event and there is not really a hierachic relation. I would say something like

Ich präferiere im Beruf das Siezen...Im Beruf bin ich generell mit niemanden per Du...

That's not offensive to me.

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I think you should say that at the beginning then. It's kind of impolite when they already said "Du" to you. Better to make that clear upfront (for example, when I started at my company, one of the bosses told me that we're all "per Du", and if I had any objections - but of course, any customer is addressed as "Sie", unless they personally offered you the "Du"). – OregonGhost Sep 7 '11 at 8:13
instead of "präferiere" I'd use "bevorzuge", that sounds less aristocratic :p – Tobias Kienzler Sep 7 '11 at 8:58

I understand that politeness is required, nevertheless, the appropriate politeness in this case may be: "Ham wir schon Schweine zusamm' gehütet, oder was?" especially if the Duzer is very penetrant / follows a company policy / is from Berlin, etc.

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My father was replying to someone who was saying "du" to him: "Have we been in the same grade?" with his Berlin-accent. It worked and was polite, because of the context.

In other words, I think it depends on the context and there might be situations where there is no polite solution.

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"Bewahren Sie bitte die Etiquette!"

With a nice (was heißt 'verbindlich?') smile: "Ich erinnere mich gar nicht Ihnen das Du angeboten zu haben".

Depends much on the tone, whether it comes along polite. If you lower your volume, so that others around you don't hear it, it is really polite, since it doesn't disclose the dumbness of the other persons. On the other hand, lowering your volume but not enough gives the impression that you tried, and makes the other look very stupid (which I enjoy the most). Then, looking around with surprise, and correcting yourself, offering the 'DU': "Wenn Sie wünschen können wir natürlich gerne zum Du wechseln!" lets you look diplomatic, while you aren't.

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"Ich erinnere mich gar nicht Ihnen das Du angeboten zu haben." implies that the speaker is the only one who can offer it, so it's still not very polite. – Joachim Sauer Sep 7 '11 at 6:46
@JoachimSauer: depends on the social/professional hierarchy, in this case the customer is the one to offer the "Du" (unless the salesperson is much older, where the usual dilemma occurs...) – Tobias Kienzler Sep 7 '11 at 9:03
@Joachim: Yes, it implies. In an apple store, it would be the customer to offer the Du, not the Shop. Der Kunde ist König. – user unknown Sep 7 '11 at 11:16

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