cultural difference 29: phone

May 30, 2010

If we answer our phone, most Germans say their names, not just “hello.” The advantage is that you immediately know whom you’re talking to, even if you called a house phone.

By the way, the German word for cell phone is “handy” – maybe because they can come in handy 🙂



  1. Apparently my mother is thoroughly European. This is yet another thing that was ingrained during my upbringing. I was taught to answer the phone “(family name) residence. Lara Zielinsky speaking. May I help you?”

    My cell phone gets “Hello, (name)” because I have caller ID, and I’m the only one who ever uses my cell.

  2. I think that’s changing though or has already changed. Ever since everyone has caller ID, people see who is calling and thus are more likely to jump right into the conversation.

    I know I, outside of work, of course, hardly ever answer the phone with my full name anymore, even though that’s what I used to do. If a blocked number calls they get a ‘Hallo?’, usually it’s call centers anyway.

    • You’re right. If caller ID tells me it’s a friend or family member calling, I start with “hi” too.

      Other calls, I answer with my last name, since I know those are mostly calls from clients or colleagues.

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