Doing Business with Germans

1. Planning & Value of time

Time is of vital importance to Germans. They prefer to plan their time far in advance, making precise schedules and then following them precisely. All in all, the way they deal with time is rather inflexible.

The positive side of all this is that when you make an appointment or an arrangement with German, you can almost always depend on it being kept.

In Germany, it seems that virtually nothing is possible without having first made an appointment.

Time has an enormous symbolic value in both the business social sphere of life.

2. Separation of Personality and Living Spheres (Compartmentalization)

Germans make strict divisions between the various parts of their lives. They adjust their behavior according to both the sphere in which they are dealing with another person as well as how close they are to that person.

Separation of the following spheres is fundamental:

• professional – private

Germans work during work hours and ‘‘live’’ in their free time in evening, on the weekend and on the holiday.

Colleagues are considered first and foremost as fellow workers, not as potential friends.
In Germany, the existence of common interest is good basis for a friendship.

• rational – emotional

Germans attempts to keep objective facts and feelings separate.

• role – person

Germans define their roles clearly and straightforwardly with respect to responsibility and authority.

Important matters which arise during the normal working day are dealt with through formals channels, in official meetings.

Informal relationships, on the other hand, reflect a relationship based on liking someone.

Appreciation for Rules, Regulation and Structure

In Germany there are more rules, regulation, ordinances, laws and formalities than anyone can count. Of course other countries also have social rules and laws but in Germany their sheer number, the strict adherence to them and the rigidity of the reprimands and punishments set it apart from other countries.

A great deal of important, normal work related information is conveyed through very formal channels, like meetings, discussions, minutes, electronic mails, memos and other information distribution systems.

3. Objective

Whenever people meet, they meet on at least two different levels: on the task level which deals with the content and is objective, and on the social-emotional level which deals with individual emotions and relationship.

Germans value the written words Because only they are agreements, rules or facts clearly recorded in black and white, without the distraction of vague chatter.

4. Everything is spelled out: the German Style of Communication

Germans also use communication style is famous for being explicit and direct. Germans formulate what is important to them fully and verbally, making the content clear and unambiguous. The characteristic elements of this style of communication are:

1. The question what is in the foreground, while the how remains in the background.

2. Germans speak in a very frank, sometimes undiplomatic way without trying to cover anything up. They are honest and sincere, and they say whatever they have to say exactly as they see it.

3. They tend not to take personal sensible into consideration and can, therefore, make unintentionally hurtful statements.

4. This style leaves little ‘‘rooms to move’’ in a communicative sense. Germans want to express themselves precisely and clearly when they speak, in a manner that cannot be misunderstood: they mean what the say, and they what they mean.

5. On the other hand, Germans only tend to understand exactly what has been said. They take it for granted that what is said exactly what meant, and they do not see the necessity for further decoding or interpretation.

6. Hierarchy Concept (At work)

This concept is relatively flat in Germany. In school children are encouraged to form their own opinions. It is acceptable to disagree with the teacher if you have a good reason for doing so.

White collar employees are not closely supervised by the manager.

• Organization usually does not have many levels of hierarchy.
• Although there is a tendency of boss and expert to speak the most in the meeting, hierarchy does not really play a significant role in the discussion.
• Normally in Business situations, competence and expertise are more important than formal rank.
• It is possible to disagree with the supervisor if there is a good reason.

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