Things like trying to meet people or talking to people you barely know are naturally awkward, but trust The Frau. You’ve never experienced a truly awkward gathering unless you've lived in Switzerland and been brave enough to work at a company that isn't multinational.
As most people know, the Swiss pretty much keep to themselves. As in they only talk to their family and their friends—specifically the friends they made in first grade. And this works for them. But it might not work especially well for you when you, the outsider, find yourself at a company happy hour feeling anything but happy.
The Frau has worked at several Swiss ad agencies over the last seven years. And if social events are bad at a Swiss ad agency, The Frau shudders to think of what they would be like at a Swiss bank. So what’s an expat to do? Below are ten strategies to get the Swiss talking to you, both in general life or at that dreaded “social” mixer. Note: Use at your own risk. You may just make a friend for life (or in some cases...an enemy).
|The Swiss will talk to you. Just know the right topics.|
Mention how many foreigners there are in Switzerland (specifically the number of Germans, when possible).
Discuss things that seem non-existent or insignificant (such as crime or trash).
Ask about that construction project the next street over (there is always a construction project the next street over and there is always someone who has memorized the construction schedule).
Ask about vacation plans. The Swiss always have vacation plans. It’s easy for them to know where they are going next since it's most likely the exact same place they just went.
Put out your trash incorrectly (especially good if you want the whole community to talk. But not so good if you don’t want them to talk about you).
Recycle during the lunch hour. Guaranteed lecture. Have fun.
Sit back, relax, and eat something while several “En Guetes” come your way.
Walk a dog.
Carry an alphorn. Better yet, play one.
Anyone else have tips for trying to speak with people from a culture who rarely even speak amongst themselves?