Tis the season of Gemütlichkeit


Words I’d taken for granted as being a fixed part of the English language I recently discovered came from the German. Noodles, abseiling, rucksack. Obvious when I read them now.

One word that hasn’t transferred over from the German is Gemütlichkeit. It’s usually translated as cosiness but that’s just one aspect of the German meaning.

Think a roaring open fire, a snug sofa, glass of mulled wine/cup of tea/hot chocolate and a good book. That’s cosy. But the German word also describes a friendly atmosphere that you can get from strolling through a bustling town centre – sticking with this time of year I’m envisaging stalls selling Glühwein, crepes, and gingerbread – it gives you a feeling of contentedness. The Oxford English dictionary defines Gemütlichkeit as “the quality of being pleasantly cheerful: cosy, snug, homely, genial, good-natured”

I got up early today to tackle my inbox and proofread a translation so I can go out for a run later. Both sitting here with a mug of tea and my office heater and the sense of satisfaction following a good run enjoyed with a friend I reckon can be described as gemütlich.

And I think we need more of this feeling in business.

You know that people buy with their emotions and not because the cold, hard facts on paper say they should.

Make your clients and prospective clients feel good when they work with you and you’re on to a winner.

How can you do that?

By making things easy for them. By giving them reassurance that their stickiest problem is solved when they choose your product or service. By offering them value and great service with every conversation or interaction you have with them.

Yes we want results. Yes we want efficiency, reliability, and high-quality. These are, or should be a given. Ultimately, we want to feel good – reassured, lighter, cared for. Despite the digitalisation and streamlined automated systems of the present, or maybe because of these, we humans crave personal interaction. How special does it make you feel when you get truly personalised service? Imagine the manager of your favourite restaurant coming to your table and asking about your kids, offering you a glass of wine on the house just because he can. Gemütlich.

One of my favourite clothes shops (I’ll talk more about them another day because they get it) allows customers to browse with a cup of tea of coffee. The staff took my husband and children to a little area and plied them with biscuits and toys while I was ushered into the changing room and urged to take my time. That’s gemütlich.