Germans and Americans: Greetings

German Culture and Lifestyle: Greetings

As an American living in Germany, I have learned a lot about people. In my city, (Wuppertal) I have met people from all over the world – Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Greece, Syria, Iran, and many others. It has been in these intercultural exchanges that I have learned a lot about people and other cultures. There are notable cultural differences that I have found to be interesting throughout my experiences in Germany. I won’t go into all of them in this post, however, I would like to address the way Americans and Germans greet each other.

In the USA, it’s quite common to greet someone with a “Hello. How are you?”. I never really thought about it, as I have grown up my entire life knowing this to be both a polite and courteous way of saying hello. I suppose that I don’t really care how most people are doing, unless if they are close to me. But this is still my preferred way to say hello. It just simply sounds nice – at least to me, anyway.

In Germany, it’s quite uncommon to use this greeting. I have tried to use it (in German) to Germans. They often seem to either be confused or they respectfully answer the question knowing that I am some type of strange foreigner from a galaxy far, far away. But really, they prefer just a simple “Hello”. They might also say “Good day”.

What is interesting about all of this is when a German asks me why we say “How are you?”. I don’t really know what to say. I mean, how do I answer this? I guess to put it simply – I just like it. For me, when I say hello to someone, whether I know or the person or not, I want to be friendly.

2 responses on “Germans and Americans: Greetings

  1. MARKUS KLAHN

    HI CHRIS
    Ich mag deinen Blog, Es ist interessant zu lesen wie du die unterschiede siehst.
    Das mit dem “how are you” klingt auch für meine ohren nach amerikanischer leicht aufgesetzter freundlichkeit .(was nicht abwertend klingen soll )
    Bei uns gibt es ja ähnliche Floskeln
    Hallo “Wie ist es” oder schlimmer noch “was geht” ,das sind ja auch immer halb ernst gemeinte fragen und das interesse am gegenüber meist gering .
    Ich glaube der deutsche hält es gern kurz und bündig und meint dies noch nicht einmal unhöflich .

    Verzeih mir das Ich auf deutsch geschrieben hab aber das in englisch zu schreiben wäre ein Fehler nach dem anderen geworden .
    MFG. MARKUS und VALLE

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Markus and Valle,

      First of all, I have heard you both speak English and you guys are great speakers. But I can understand, I really like blogging in English. I would probably have quite a few mistakes in Germany if I were to write it. (I always ask friends to correct my German grammar.)

      Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and nice words. I really appreciate it!

      -Chris

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