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?
  • 3
    Just speak like you always do, just leave out colloquial and informal words.
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 10:10

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 7
    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
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 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)

  • 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
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 15:54

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