6 Questions To Never Ask A Swiss Person | USA vs. Switzerland Cultural Differences
Hey guys, welcome back to How to Switzerland, Switzerland, Switzerland, Sarah here today and in today’s video I’m gonna be sharing with you six things to never ask a Swiss person. So I really wanted Matthias to be in this video because he’s Swiss, and I thought it would be good to have his two cents, but he’s super busy studying for his final exams right now, so I’m on my own today, but I did have him go over all the questions with me, And yeah, he helped me come up with them. So we compiled this little list of six things that, you know, I don’t want to use the word like you should, never ask but I think if you want to kind of fit in culturally and avoid awkward conversations and avoid maybe people thinking that you’re either too direct, or you’re overstepping, or that you just, I don’t know that these are just some things that you might want to keep in mind, either if you are traveling in Switzerland, if you are moving here, or if you meet a Swiss person abroad. Because you know there are actually a lot of cultural differences between the US and Switzerland. I’m American if you didn’t know that, which is why I always compare things to my experience living in the US. But yeah, you already knew that if you are a subscriber, and if you are subscribed, I just want to say how much I appreciate your support. I really just love engaging with you guys, seeing all your comments on the videos, you guys are always so positive and you know, I think it’s great that we have so many Swiss people watching, and they can leave their feedback down below, and we can get some other perspectives. So if you are Swiss, feel free to leave your feedback. We really love any constructive feedback about what we were commenting on, you know, your opinion and all that because it really helps people watching. So make sure to pop down in the comment section. Without further ado, let’s jump into the questions. First thing to avoid asking is, “What do you do?”. Now I know what you’re thinking, if you are an American watching this, you’re probably thinking, “what?” Because this is such a common question. I would go as far to say that in the States this is just an opener. This is just more or less a greeting, people say, “hi, how are you? Nice to meet you, Jessica. What do you do?”. You know, this is basically how Americans greet each other when they meet each other. Especially if you live in bigger cities, I mean, of course It depends greatly but my experience living in big cities or being around career-driven people, you will definitely be asked, “what do you do?” This is just a super common question, but here in Switzerland I have found and Matthias has agreed that people don’t ask this, and they don’t really like being asked this. The Swiss do not connect themselves and their identity so closely with their work, as they do in the United States for example. In the States, people very, their identity is very much tied to what they do for a living, and the Swiss try to separate that a little bit more, and they don’t necessarily connect what they do for work with who they are as a person. So that’s why when you meet somebody, you’re not going to be asked by a Swiss, “What do you do?”, and you should probably not ask a Swiss person this because they much preferred to talk about, I don’t know, sports, hobbies. You know, you might want to ask, let me tell what you could ask instead. A better question might be, “Oh, did you watch this thing, this sports event last night”, or “Did you go out hiking over the past weekend?” “Do you like to go fishing?” “Do you have, what do you do with your family?”, I don’t know, this kind of stuff, you know stuff outside of work. This is what people like to talk about. They aren’t so obsessed with talking about their work, especially when you first meet somebody. Now I’m not saying that you can never ask this, or you can never find out what people do for a living, but they want to get to know you first on a personal level and find out a little bit about your hobbies and who you are, before they’re gonna start opening up about what they do for work. Second question guys, this just has everything to do with stereotypes, but don’t ask Swiss people, “Do you make cheese?” “Are you a farmer?” “Can you yodel?”. Switzerland definitely has a history of agriculture, and they still have a lot of that going on, but I think it’s like less than 1% of the Swiss population that actually works in agriculture, and these are the types of questions that are just kind of, you know, how you say, like over asked. They get asked this stuff all the time as a joke, and it’s really not that funny. I was talking with Matthias about this, and he’s not like, he got asked these questions all the time when we lived in the States, and it’s certainly not like Insulting or anything, but it’s just really not that funny, you know, it’s not that funny to ask, you know, “Can you yodel?” They hear this all the time. It’s a cliche, it’s a stereotype and, but I have noticed living in Switzerland that a, really a lot of Swiss people do not like to be associated with farming and that kind of an industry because they like to be seen as a very high-tech, modern, wealthy, educated country, and when you assume that they’re farmers and stuff, I have noticed that some Swiss people do kind of get insulted and take this the wrong way. Of course at the same time they’re very proud of their agricultural roots and all the stuff that they do have going on in terms of all of that, but it’s certainly not something that every Swiss person can relate to, or most Swiss people can relate to, and they prefer to be seen as a highly industrialized, innovative country because they are. Third question not to ask a Swiss is “How much did you pay for blah, blah, blah, XYZ? How much did you pay for something?”. So Swiss people, when it comes to money, are extremely, and I mean extremely secretive. I don’t know if that is the right word, but the Swiss view money as a highly, highly personal matter, a very personal thing that you do not talk about publicly. And I know you might be saying, Sarah that sounds weird, I don’t know anybody that would ask somebody straight up, “How much did you pay for you know XYZ?”, but I have to say in the States I have seen a lot that people will kind of bring this up sometimes in like a subtle or kind of nonchalant type of way like, say somebody gets a new boat, It would be kind of normal to be like, “Hey, did you get a good deal on it?”, or this kind of stuff, like, “Oh, how much did that set you back?” or in like a more casual tone people might kind of bring up the aspect of money, and of course also in the US I find that people really like to kind of tout like, “Oh, I got a great deal on this top. It was only 29 dollars when it’s originally 150, I got it off the sale rack” and like, they’ll sometimes bring up prices, you know, It’s a little bit more normal to talk about how much things cost. And I’ve heard from multiple, multiple Swiss people that what they kind of think the Swiss mentality is, if somebody’s talking about money, if somebody goes and buys shoes, and just like talks about how much they cost, or talks about money, they assume that you don’t have it. So if you’re bragging about money, if you’re talking about money, it’s because you don’t have money. So that’s kind of how the Swiss look at those matters, and it’s much better to be modest about that, not bring it up at all. You’ll get a lot more respect from Swiss people if you can kind of just keep that to yourself. And one other note on this which just does kind of surprise me still, but Matthias told me that I should point out with money as well that talking about your salary is a huge no-go even with like close friends or family members, so family typically will not share how much they earn, what their salaries are, or even very close friends will not discuss those kinds of things, whereas in the States definitely friends talk about how much they earn and, I don’t know, I just feel like that’s a lot more normal, whereas here that is just like so, so personal, definite no-go. Just don’t talk about money at all. I know, it’s kind of funny because if you guys watch my other, my other channel, I love talking about money and personal finance and because I think it’s important that we kind of open up the conversation about that kind of stuff, so I completely understand the Swiss point of view, but at the same time, I think it’s important that we empower people to take control of their money and understand things like retirement and investing yada-yada. Now you’re getting to know me personally a little bit, so I think, I agree definitely with a lot of the Swiss money principles, but I think in some sense, we should encourage people to be a little bit more open, so we can support each other you know with personal finance, but anyways, next question. Another thing you shouldn’t ask a Swiss is, “Do you want to get dinner tonight?” So you’re like, what’s wrong with that question Sarah, that’s a perfectly normal question? But guys there’s a big, big thing in there. The fact that you would say, do you want to do something tonight? So anything, I’m gonna group this, okay, we’re gonna put this under an umbrella, an umbrella. Don’t ask Swiss people to do things on short notice even with friends. I mean, of course, it depends on the friend group and age and how busy people are, but Swiss people, they like to prepare. I know this might sound really silly, but when we do things with our Swiss family that we have over here, it’s usually done with, I would say minimum one weeks notice. So even if it’s just casually like popping over to a family members house for grilling, you wouldn’t really like call somebody up and be like, “Hey, it’s a nice day, like, what do you say we all get together tonight?” I think this will make a Swiss person panic a little bit, sorry If you guys think I’m trolling, but I just, I can laugh because I see this in my Swiss husband, and it just it makes me laugh so much because I’m like, why do you need notice to go grab a cocktail. Because Matthias, my Swiss husband, He is like this all the time with everything. If we’re doing anything with family, and I say, “oh it’s gonna be good weather tomorrow”, he’s always, “I don’t know, I think they need more notice.” I’m like, “okay, I give up.” So in Switzerland definitely don’t ask people to do things on short notice. And I guess part of this goes along with the Swiss culture of really wanting to be prepared, and if you tell people that you want to do something on short notice, they might feel as they do not, they might feel as if they do not have adequate time to prepare themselves, Which is why they’re kind of adverse to doing things on short notice because I guess, they just, they just like to be prepared, they like to be ready. Kind of have a spin off question that goes right along with this, and that is that you don’t need to ask Swiss people, “Are we still on for Thursday at 5:00?” or “Are we still on for October 12th of next year?”. If a Swiss person tells you that they will be somewhere at a certain time, they will be there, okay. You do not need to follow up and confirm that with them. Of course you can, if that’s your thing, and you want to do that, but I can compare this to my experience living in New York, and in New York you had to confirm with people like twice, and just, it was like you needed to confirm everything that you do because people are super flaky and just ’cause you get in a, in a, like just because you set something up with somebody, I always felt like, oh, I don’t know if it’s really going to happen. It’s just kind of like in the back of your mind that people might flake or blow you off or cancel or reschedule because people are very busy, and that’s fine, and I actually got totally kind of used to that, I got used to just, you know, reconfirming with people constantly, but in Switzerland you do not need to do that. You do not need to ask, “Are we still on for blank?”, not necessary. If a Swiss person says they will be there, they will be there. I can attest to this with, we bought some secondhand furniture, and we set up a bunch of appointments with people, and everybody showed up at the exact same time, you know, and I’ve bought a lot of stuff online in the US, and it’s, it’s always hard to kind of make sure everybody’s there, so I definitely appreciate that the Swiss people really, really keep their word. Alright guys moving on to question number five, and that is to not ask Swiss people about their role in World War Two. I know that this sounds kind of obvious, but it does come up, I would say quite often With Swiss people. I noticed when I lived in the States with my Swiss husband that people would sometimes bring this up as a joke And laugh about it or poke fun about you know, “Oh, would you have Nazi gold?”, and like all of this kind of stuff, and Swiss people really do not think this is funny. So if you think that this is kind of a funny icebreaker, I can recommend that you stay away from this question. All right, and the last question, question number six, sorry if I’m talking fast you guys, I had a Red Bull, and then the camera turns on, and I’m just like, I’m sorry, I know I need to slow. But we do have captions now, I think, so you can turn those on as well down below, there’s like a button that says CC, so those captions might help if I’m talking a bit too fast. But anyways guys, last question, question number six, it’s kind of funny one, it’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of real at the same time, and don’t ask Swiss people, “Do you speak Swedish”, or “Do you speak Swiss?” This comes up all the time, I mean really all the time. Whenever I would tell people that I lived in Switzerland, or my husband is Swiss, these are the two questions, I would honestly say we got asked the most, like more than people said, “Do you speak German”, or, “Do you speak Swiss German?” It was, almost all these people were asking, “Do you speak swish Swiss or do you speak Swedish” Now of course, you might look a little, a little bit ignorant to a Swiss If you ask this, they’re not gonna find it insulting. They might find it, might find it kind of cute, but, yeah, it’s definitely not the right question. If you really want to impress a Swiss person, and you’re curious about their language, you could say something like, “Oh, you’re from Switzerland. Are you from the German region? Are you from the French region? I heard Switzerland has four national languages. Which region are you from?” Now this is really like, I know this is like shooting really high as a, as a, how do you say, like a alternate question, but you will really impress a Swiss person if you ask them this. So if you meet a Swiss person abroad and ask them that, they’ll be very impressed, definitely more impressed than if you ask them if they speak Swedish or Swiss. Again guys, it comes up, I know, but they’re not gonna be insulted, but it just makes you, makes you look a little bit ignorant, but I get it. Before I moved to Switzerland, I was not aware of the full language situation going on over here either. So those are all of my questions, like I said in the intro, if you are Swiss leave your feedback down below because it helps all the people viewing to get some extra feedback from some more people in the comments. Please share this video with a friend that you would think would find it helpful, subscribe if you are not already, and I’ll talk to you very soon in the next video guys. Bye, ciao!