Mean

An uncut scene from Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig and the teenager argue in the jewelry store. This is improv at its best! Who says Americans can get in each other’s face?

YouTube comments:

“This girl was only 14 when she held her own with a professional comedian for 10 minutes.”

“Kristen Wiig is an absolute improv genius and not afraid to set herself up as the punching bag for the little girl.”

“They clearly were having way too much fun with this scene. Mia starts to smile too much because it’s such a joy to go so unhinged on somebody. The director probably said to go in there and completely go off on her but don’t overlap lines so we can edit. The editors probably had too much fun with this scene too. Can you blame any of them?”

“Props to Kristen but that girl annihilated her.”

80% self-censor

7 April 2022. New York Times:

“There is now little doubt that students frequently bite their tongues because they feel unsafe. A 2021 survey of more than 37,000 college students — by far the largest on free expression to date — found that more than 80 percent of students censor their own viewpoints at least some of the time, while roughly one in five students regularly do so. Meanwhile, only 40 percent of students say that they are comfortable openly disagreeing with their professors.”

Yes, hypersensitivity on American university campuses is well-known. What does this have to do with communication and feedback within American companies? Everything. Political correctness, like it or dislike it, has been a growing force in the United States for several decades.

German language aggressive?

An American woman in Germany: “This video was so fun to make! German gets made fun for sounding aggressive (but it’s not if you watch this video!), but little did we know, French had some unexpected funny moments too for sounding so short 🙂 Watch and see what I mean.”

YouTube comments:

“The German guy was so friendly and seemed so huggable! I really liked him. I’m learning German so I know sometimes there’s a stereotype about Germans being grumpy but I know it’s totally not true.”

“As a German I actually laughed at some German words for the first time. Because every time I watch comparison video they speak German way too aggressively but here the pronunciation is true to the original, which actually makes stuff like gums vs. Zahnfleisch funny to think about.”

Longer! Longer! Longer!

Christoph Waltz, an Austrian who often makes jokes about Germans in a rather gratuitous way, puts Jimmy Fallon to the test with a quiz on the definitions of long German words, like Bezirksschornsteinfegermeister.

YouTube comments:

“For non German speakers: The reason our words are so long is that you can basically string as many words as you want together and it would still count as long as it makes sense.”

“Can we just appreciate Waltz’s unwillingness to go along with Jimmy’s horrid fake laugh? He just stares at jimmy until he stops lol. An absolute icon.”

“You know you’re German when you don’t think the words are long at all.”

“Hey, how are you?”

Observations of a young German woman in Cincinnati, Ohio in the U.S.

This comment gets it right: “My experience with small talk is that it starts light and superficial, but the longer it goes on, the more personal it gets. It’s as if both are sending out feelers to find out how deep (or long) the conversation is going to be and to make sure both can end it (or back off) at any time without things getting awkward.

The answer to ‘how are you’ (‘hey, what’s up?’ actually) is always expected to be short, but can be open ended to lead the other person to probe deeper if they wish, such as, ‘okay I guess, I got some stuff going on.’ The other person can back off and say, ‘yeah, I hear ya’ and change the subject if they don’t want to go deeper, or respond with, ‘really? what’s going on?’ if they want you to open up more. Like a verbal tennis match where each hit gets harder to see how intense the game will be. I’m not sure I phrased it right, but I think you catch my meaning.”

Glück

From DW – Let’s face it, we could all do with a bit of good luck this year. Rachel is on the hunt for lucky charms in Germany and finding out a bit about German happiness along the way. Is Germany a happy nation? What brings good or bad luck in Germany? And why is Rachel on a pig farm? Find out in this week’s Meet the Germans.

A teacher in German commented: “I’m actually studying to become a teacher and we intentionally wish the students “success” and not “good luck” because of the very reason you stated: we want them to feel like they can have an impact on the result by studying and not just being lucky.”

Another commend: “The secretary at the welcome desk in our university mentioned to me that the following day was her birthday, and I very innocently and enthusiastically said, “Alles Gute!”. I will never forget the almost terrifying face, the awkward silence, like I had committed a crime. “It’s not really good to wish someone happy birthday before the day,” she said. I had no idea. She tried to laugh it off, but her eyes looked seriously worried I carry the guilt to this day.”

German efficiency

Germany is known for producing high-quality goods, but did you know that the Germans rarely work overtime and usually leave the office at 5PM?

This video cites four reasons for why the Germans are very efficient in what they do. It’s a bit simplified, but it their core the messages are accurate.

One clearly false statement is that for Germans the path to the goal is of secondary importance. In Germany the process used to reach a goal is seen as one side of the coin, with the other side being the outcome

The voice is computer-generated, but clear. The statements about Japanese business culture are not relevant for us, at least not yet on UC.

Germans aren’t big on Small Talk

When my German girlfriend came here to New York years ago, she told me, “you are not going to believe this! I sat down at a cafe, and the waitress said ‘how are you?’ She didn’t even know me!” (a comment on YouTube)

So that’s why Germans are good at stuff, no bullshit, straight to the point. (another comment on YouTube)

This is by far my favourite episode right now. The lady with the grey sweater is HILARIOUS, she made me laugh out loud. But hey, why should we do small talk anyway? It’s a British concept and people are not obliged to conform themselves ! (yet another comment)

Interesting. Very insightful and helpful. I find that Germans sometimes feel uncomfortable talking with strangers. It appears to be the case in your video as well. But also it seems that the longer you talk to them the more comfortable and open they become. I suppose this is true anywhere you go but Germans appear to be a bit less interested in small talk. So I think persistence pays off when trying to start a conversation with Germans. (a great comment … persistence!)