DeeAnn in her article “How are you? Wait, why are you telling me this?” already discussed the general topic from the US point of view – this article highlights the German counterpart 😉.
Shortly after SUSE had been acquired by Novell, quite a few of us SUSEans traveled to Salt Lake City to attend BrainShare (the Novell customer and partner conference). With us we had a young German colleague who never before visited the US, and probably had not much interaction so far with colleagues from other countries. He was a bit stressed out by the travel, and did not feel that well.
The same day we arrived, in the evening the Welcome Reception took place. Of course we all showed up there, and our new boss from the US approached that young colleague with a “Great you are here, how are you”. Instead of just answering “Thanks” or even “Doing well”, the young man started to give a speech about his state of mind and of health, saying something like “Oh well, I am not really feeling good, I am missing Germany, and I am tired as I could not sleep during the flight” and so on and so forth. With every word he added, our new boss got more and more pale – you could really feel how his state of mind did change – and he did not know how to react.
Fortunately we ‘succeeded’ in stopping our colleague’s flood of words, and we explained to him that next time, he should keep his answer to something like “Thanks, how are you”. He was quite confused, and replied: “I didn’t want to be rude at all. But I was asked a question, and I answered honestly. Should I have been lying?”
The next day, our new boss asked me “Is there something wrong with this guy because he was complaining so much?” “Well – not in his perception – he just wanted to be honest. It could easily be that next time when you ask him ‘how are you’ he showers you with a flush of positive emotions instead.”
Sometimes “truth” and “truth” are two different things. So the question is: are Germans complaining 😭– or are they too honest 😲? (mc)