Dearest German friends and colleagues, stop being so damn serious. Like really, quit. Lighten up. Laugh. Spin around in your office chair a couple of times, throw a smiley face in at the end of your email, anything.
In the process of writing an entirely different article for this installment of How We Sink, we ran across an article on BBC about how the Knigge Society, a group which advises on etiquette and social behavior, has called for kissing to be banned in the workplace. Now, they’re not talking about uncomfortable-to-witness displays of affection (we would be supportive of something like that, too), but the Knigge Society proposes that the practice of kissing another on the cheek as a greeting should be banned the workplace.
They are also proposing that if people don’t mind it (“it” being the kissing), they should announce it with a little paper message placed on their desk. The culmination of the call to ban kissing, is the mention that in Europe, there is a “social distance zone” of 23 inches (60 cm) that should be observed. Um, quick question — who measured this?! What happens if we completely mess up and move in an extra 2 inches? Social faux pas of the year, surely.
As an added bonus, the Knigge society has also put in their two cents on how to properly end a relationship via text message. No, really. They did that. We’re seriously wondering if we can just combine the two and let people know, via text message as they approach us, that we don’t want to be kissed on the cheek. Maybe they should write an official statement on that as well.
Our point this time is simple: it ain’t that serious, folks. We all like laughing when stereotypes are fulfilled in real life, but as an American, calling a German and getting a very dry “Absolutely not. Goodbye,” after we’ve laid on the most charming greeting we can muster gets really old after the 15th time. An email stating “Please terminate my subscription. Regards,” is a kick to the stomach. Where’s the smiley face? Can we just get a smiley face!?
Laughing is good for your health. Conversely, stress shortens your life. And even if this way of acting doesn’t stress you out, it sure stresses us out, so quit. We’re not asking you to come to work in a silly tie. You don’t have to make funny faces at us. Actually, we’d really prefer that you don’t. But you can smile. You can be pleasant. It won’t hurt your business reputation. We’ll trust that you can still be efficient and professional without being a gray cloud on our otherwise sunny day.