Formal “Sie” or informal “du”? - International communication is not always easy - take Germany as an example!

Like so many other things in life, deciding how to address people is not always easy.

At sports “du” is almost always used. At school, at least in the lower grades, teachers are addressed with "Sie".

But here, too, we see that things are changing. A lot of parents are addressed by their first name instead of a title like “mum” and “dad”.

What’s right or wrong is determined by the “bubble” we live in.

But our "bubble" is bigger! We have shops and franchise systems as customers, but we also have consumers as private customers. We look after clubs and schools, maintain contacts with the online community and are present at trade fairs and events.

Within JBL, the more distant "Sie" was held in very high regard for a long time. Today, we call each other by our first names without any loss of mutual respect. Why should we? Everyone knows their role and their duties.

But how should we address our private customers, community members, business partners or companies in our various communication channels in Germany? "Sie" or "du"? Mr/Mrs or first name?

Due to the influence of social media, changes are already making themselves felt. But it will be a long time before there’s a consensus on the issue. Therefore, we have decided to continue addressing our business customers with "Sie" and let the “du” develop of its own accord after a long, intensive and cordial contact. Just like we’ve always done.

Until now we have addressed consumers with "Sie" in customer service, at events and on the entire website. In more social communication with newsletters and on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, we have adopted the more personal “du” form and the first name address. This language change is also widespread in Scandinavian countries. In English-speaking countries too, addressing people is less complicated because the English "You" combines the German "Sie" and "du" and thus blends the difference between personal and formal address.

Our service and online marketing team are always happy to help and we always aim to stay close to the pulse of our business customers and end consumers. Only this way can we maintain our mutual exchange as we continue to solve questions, provide information and find solutions. We hope we are striking the right tone as we do this, as this is of advantage to both you and us.

Our team is currently posting a small opinion poll in the German-speaking area, asking the addressee to evaluate our reader approach (whether “du” or “Sie”) in previous content on the JBL website or the various social media platforms in image or video format. We hope that this will provide us with important insights and tips to strengthen our common bond and cooperation

One key point is: Does the polite, more distanced "Sie" ensure more professionalism towards the reader or is your willingness to accept "du" greater than we expected? What about when dealing with an annoying complaint? In truth the JBL customer service team reacts quickly and straightforwardly in such cases with joint solution development, cause discovery, tips and advice. The form of address should not really play a role. So, should we continue with "Sie" or switch to "du"?

I’m really looking forward to hearing your opinions and we hope to use the results to further optimise our future communication and cooperation!

Your JBL Team

© 16.03.2022
Matthias Wiesensee
Matthias Wiesensee
M.Sc. Wirtschaftsinformatik

Social Media, Online Marketing, Homepage, Kundenservice, Problemlöser, Fotografie, Blogger, Tauchen, Inlineskating, Aquaristik, Gartenteich, Reisen, Technik, Elektronische Musik

About me: Seit Teenagerzeiten mit Aquarien in Kontakt. Klassische Fischaquarien, reine Pflanzenaquarien bis hin zum Aquascape. Aber auch ein Gartenteich und Riffaquarien begleiten mich privat im Hobby. Als Wirtschaftsinformatiker, M.Sc. bin ich als Online Marketing Manager bei JBL für die Bereiche Social Media, Webentwicklung und der Kommunikation mit dem Anwender der JBL Produkte zuständig und kenne die JBL Produkte im Detail.


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