21 phrases to help you get on in a German office

The Local Germany
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21 phrases to help you get on in a German office
Photo: DPA

Working in a German office can be a tricky business, especially if you haven't quite mastered the language. The Local is here to help with some useful phrases to impress your colleagues.


Bonding with colleagues

1) "Na?  "Alles fresh?" Hallöchen!" (Alright? How's it hanging? Hiya!)

Chirpy ways of greeting your co-workers – a step on from the more formal "Guten Morgen".  

2) "Schönen Feierabend!" (Have a nice evening!)

Even if you're just heading home to do the laundry and stick something in the microwave, Germans still think it's time to party. Wishing your colleagues a "good party" is the standard German farewell after a day's work.


3) "Keine Sorge/ Kein Problem/ Nicht zu danken!" ("No problem/ you're welcome!")

These earn you a lot of brownie points – even if you don't entirely mean what you say.

4) "Ich bin ein Teamplayer"

A good example of showing both cooperative spirit and wonderful command of "Büro-sprech" (office speak), with a bit of Denglisch too.

Food and drink

5) "Mahlzeit/einen Guten/Wohl bekomm's!" (Bon appetit!)

English is unusual in foregoing the pleasantries before a meal, but Germans take wishing someone 'Guten Appetit' to the extreme. You might well hear a friendly colleague wishing you "Mahlzeit!" as you tuck into your afternoon snack or a morning banana.

6) "Wie wär's mit einem Kaffee/Tee?" (Who wants a coffee/tea?)

This can be used as either an excuse for leaving a tedious meeting, or to ingratiate yourself with your co-workers.

Germans are always keen on coffee, but remember that offering tea could mean anything from green, strawberry and raspberry or the indeterminate "Kräutertee" (herb tea) – so if you want black tea with milk, be specific!

7) "Lass uns unbedingt einen Kaffee trinken gehen." (Let’s go and grab a coffee.)

When the office gets too sticky, "working" over a cup of coffee can allow you to while away a few hours in a coffee house.



Tech troubles

8) "Auf geht's zur Telko!" (Time for the conference call!)

The weekly "Telko" (Telefonkonferenz) is a staple of German office life. Although, some Germans now call it "der Conference Call".

9) "Können Sie mir bitte eine Mail schreiben?" (Can you send me an email?)

For all those who dread hearing the office phone ring, telling your colleagues to write you an email might help get around the foreign language nightmare of the phone call.

10) "Ich bin ohne Connectivity." (I don't have any internet connection)

The standard excuse for being unproductive....

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11) "Ich kann dir das mal forwarden." (I can forward it to you)

Like "Downloaden", "Liken" and "checken", these English words have simply been incorporated into office talk to replace their slightly more long-winded German equivalents. Simply take any English word, add "en" and you're good to go.

12) "Das Issue muss adressiert werden. (The issue must be addressed)

13) "Da haben wir noch Potenzial." (We can still work with that)

Getting in a handful of English vocab gives you a certain status in the office and help you sound professional. These two phrases also allow you to avoid saying anything concrete.

14) "Ich setze das mal auf meine To-Do-Liste" (I'll put that on my to-do list)

As with many English words which have become firm favourites of German businesses – meeting, workshop, management – "To-Do-Liste" is a handy English-German hybrid, also because it makes it sound as if you have one.

Dealing with the boss

15) "Ja - das habe ich auf dem Schirm." (Yes – I am working on it)

The best way of reassuring your boss that all is under control, or "im Griff".

16) "Da warte ich noch auf Feedback." (I'm still waiting for feedback)

A good way of passing the buck and sounding cooperative and, yes, like a "Teamplayer".

17) "Habe ich eine Erhöhung verdient?" (Have I earned a pay rise?)

On the issue of pay, Germans do not beat around the bush. Sometimes asking outright might be the best way to get on in your career.

18) "Wir bleiben dran." (We're on the case)

If in doubt, stick to general, unspecific promises. It sounds determined, but is vague enough to leave you some wiggle room.

READ MORE: Six top tips for job seekers in Germany

Office relationships

19) "Kümmerst du dich darum?" (Do you mind taking that on?)

Knowing how to delegate and share the work around helps you avoid full responsbility for anything. Framing it as a question allows you to stay on good terms with your German colleagues.

20) "Der leidet heute an ganz akuter Unlust." (He's suffering from acute laziness)

Who says Germans don't do sarcastic humour? This is the perfect way of describing a colleague who's decided to "blau machen" – pull a sickie.

Speak to TK German health Insurance in English here!

21) "Wollen wir Du sagen?" (Shall we say "Du" to one another?)

If you're asking, make sure you time it right and read the situation. If a colleague is asking you, it's a sign you have been accepted as one of them.

The formalities have finally been dropped and you can now stop worrying about accidentally saying "du" instead of the formal "Sie" and appearing over-friendly.

READ MORE: Why young foreigners choose Germany

Frances Foley



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