Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When making a sales call, for example, should you:

  1. only speak standard Hochdeutsch with the customer no matter what,
  2. use that customer's regional language or dialect if you know it to "get on their level", or
  3. follow the customer's lead and speak however they speak?
share|improve this question
3  
Just speak like you always do, just leave out colloquial and informal words. –  Em1 Jan 15 '12 at 8:45
2  
It depends also on your business. If you sell traditional costumes like dirndls, some dialect may be a good idea - but keep understandable. –  knut Jan 15 '12 at 10:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I would avoid two things:

  1. Any thick dialect. Think about non-native speakers or people who moved to a certain area just recently. Note also that strong dialect is connected with a lower degree of education in some peoples minds.
  2. Any dialect you don't speak properly. People will notice that something is not right there (in the best case) or even feel mocked.

About "getting on the customers level": IMO this is not a question of only dialect but of general style. In conclusion I would go with Em1: Speak like you normally do, avoid language the other person might not understand.

share|improve this answer
5  
The second point is very true. If you do not speak it well, it seems like you make a fool out of your customer. –  Em1 Jan 15 '12 at 11:04
    
What do you think about elements of grammar, such as the plural "die Lastwägen" in the deep south vs standard "die Lastwagen" and such? Or places where the articles der, die, and das can change? –  Kevin Jan 15 '12 at 15:42
1  
@Kevin I think your point is negligible, as long as you use an existing alternative. Especially because there are words where most 'Muttersprachler' does not know the correct plural. And change of article, I think this is too complex, even for germans. –  Em1 Jan 15 '12 at 20:01

For any sales calls, meeting, business contacts I would recommend to use "Hochdeutsch" but don't be shy to show a personal accent.

Only place a dialect really fits into a business talk: if you live/work in the same region as your business partner and only if they use dialect. In that case the dialect could be used a local identifier.

E.g.: I'm Austrian and live in North Rhine-Westphalia - whenever I talk to Austrians my accent comes out a little bit stronger - But even when talking to Austrian client/business partners I try to speek Hochdeutsch - not the regional Austrian Dialect (which are all familiar to me)

share|improve this answer
    
Only place a dialect when they use dialect -> vicious circle? At least as long as your contact also follows this rule ;p But don't get me wrong, I do not intend to disagree with your advisable hint. –  Em1 Jan 16 '12 at 15:46
    
I fully agree ... it is to some point a vicious circle. Maybe that's one reason why business talk uses hardly any dialect. –  blindfold Jan 16 '12 at 15:54

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.