Saying "How are you?" or "How's it going?" is well documented in any German 101 class. But I'm curious how one does this in the context of business. I note that most of my conversations with coworkers I don't commonly associate with usually adhere to the following pattern:

Hi -> How are you? -> How are your projects?

In literaly English to German, one would say:

Wie sind Ihre Projekte?

But I'm curious how one could do this and sound more native? Further, I work in software. We tend to be informal, even in the German world. Is there a way to ask this colloquially and sound more authentic?

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is a problem of intercultural interaction mostly. In Germany, people having business with each other never ask Wie geht's? because that's a personal question. The same with asking about other projects a person does.

When you ask something like that, you will make your German business partner feel very uncomfortable because you showed interest in her/him. Of course you didn't. You aren't interested at all, it's an empty formula. At least for people from the U.S. In German speaking countries, it's asking a friend how things are going. The U.S. habit of calling people by first name doesn't help either.

So … don't ask something like that if you aren't friends. At least not in German. If you do it in English, people may assume ah, that's the weird U.S. introduction, tell one of those U.S. white lies and it's all okay.

Go straight so the point, tell what you want. That's authentic German.

Hallo Sebastian,

ich habe einen Bug in deiner Software gefunden, die Datei modules/GUI/main.c wirft beim Kompilieren immer einen Fehler.

[Fehlerprotokoll]

Oder mache ich was falsch?

Gruß,

Dirk

  • If it's a personal meeting, it is not unusual to ask something directly related to the encounter: "Hatten Sie eine gute Anreise?", "Konnten Sie gut herfinden?", "Hat beim Hotel-Check-in alles funktioniert?" etc. – O. R. Mapper Oct 7 '17 at 7:54
  • Yes, because these aren't personal questions but cover a specific topic connected to that meeting. – Janka Oct 7 '17 at 9:36
  • If you have a long enough business together in, lets say, projects it is not unusual to ask also about the family as you know each other long enough. – HappySPUser Oct 7 '17 at 9:42
  • That's right, but not as a greeting. I know people from the U.S. doing that in any single letter they write to me … it's an empty formula. – Janka Oct 7 '17 at 9:45

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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