Phone Call vs. e-Mail: what is advisable in Germany

Which communication channel works better if your German is not yet fluent

This article is about a specific group of people (foreigners in Germany) and a specific area: official inquiries and consultations.

As long as you are not fluent in German and do not understand official German well, I advise against clarifying important questions by phone. Why? There are several reasons for this.

1. Downsides of telephone calls

1.1: it is quite possible that the person in question does not speak English very well. This person may misinterpret your statements or even use inappropriate words themselves, which can be misleading for your site.

1.2: it is also possible that for some reason you misinterpret what is said, even if you feel you have understood everything correctly.

1.3: In telephone conversations we do not try to write down the information given immediately. Already after a few minutes you are no longer sure if you remember all the details correctly... And so the important information gets lost, forgotten, misunderstood

2. Upsides of email communication

2.1: You can always read the answers of the assigned contact person as well as your own questions later. You may notice that you have not formulated the question correctly. Don't be surprised that the answer might not be completely correct.

2.2: You can show the answers to an experienced person, e.g. a friend who is well acquainted with the application process.

2.3: If for some reason the contact person has given false information and you are in trouble, you can always show the original email. People are reluctant to admit their mistakes, but many Germans have a strong desire for justice. And if you see your mistake in black and white in the email, most likely you want to see it.

Tip: it is highly recommended to contact the contact person by name. Surprisingly few people use a personal form of address. You will immediately be noticed positively and get the feedback faster than the other one.

Don't worry that another colleague might read your email (e.g. a secretary). The fact that you did not use "Dear Ladies and Gentlemen" but "Dear Mr Mayer" indicates that you berets you have made the effort to search for the assigned person.

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03.07.-04.08.20 ©️ Jaroslav Plotnikov (All articles)