It's important to be aware of the culture-based communication etiquette in Germany because Germany has a strong economy and culture. With an advanced history and reputation for quality products, Germany's economy is among the largest in Europe.
Therefore, understanding Germany's communication style can help facilitate better understanding between people from different backgrounds and prevent misunderstandings that could result in financial loss or loss of reputation.
Germany, known officially as the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. Its capital is Berlin and its largest cities are Munich and Hamburg. It is bordered by France to the west, Belgium and Luxembourg to the north, the Netherlands to the east, Poland, Denmark, and Austria to the south, and Switzerland to the southwest of Germany.
With 83 million inhabitants, it is a country of major importance and has one of the highest standards of living worldwide. German is the official language, while English is spoken by many Germans.
Germany's culture-based communication style
- Germans are direct and honest, and they expect the same from others. This can cause a misunderstanding if a person is not used to the directness of German culture.
- Germans like to keep their distance and they use "formal" modes of communication such as titles and last names.
- German business culture is hierarchical—people at the top of an organization tend to have more power over decisions than those lower down on the totem pole. When communicating with your German counterparts, it's important to remember this hierarchy and respect it when making decisions or giving feedback.
- Germans are very formal with each other and don't like small talk very much.
- Germans also have a very different sense of humor than Americans do: they don't always understand sarcasm or jokes made at their expense.
- Germans are linear thinkers, meaning that they like to follow a logical order and tend to plan everything out in advance. They want to know where they're going and how they're going to get there before they start heading down that path. In meetings, this means that Germans won't be satisfied with an answer like "I'll figure it out when I get there." Instead, they'll ask for more details about what exactly needs to be done—and how much time it will take.
- Germans tend to be extremely punctual people who dislike being late for anything—including business meetings!
Non-verbal communication in Germany
- Greetings: In Germany, it is common to shake hands when meeting someone for the first time. Handshakes should be firm and brief.
- Eye contact: Germany's culture is very formal, so it is customary to make eye contact during conversation or business meetings.
- Personal space: They also tend not to invade each other's personal space; they will stand at least two feet away from the person they are speaking with, which can seem like a huge distance if you're used to standing closer in America or Britain.
- Germans tend not to display facial expressions during conversation unless they are very close friends with one another
- The dress code in Germany tends to be very formal and conservative in business situations.