Cross-Cultural Communication

    Welcome to Europe--Germany



Acceptable Public Behavior

  • If you don’t speak German, don’t address Germans in English because many will feel offended.

  • They are not expected to be greeted by strangers.

  • Firm, handshakes when you greet or leave them are standard in business and social settings.

  • In general, Germans like third-party introductions whenever possible.

Business Attire

  • Dress in corporate business formal, dark and conservative suits for men and women.

  • Khakis are very inappropriate.

  • Germans tend to dress in more muted colors and “dress up” just to talk the dog or go shopping.

  • An informal invitation means wear tastefully coordinated clothes and not jeans and a T-shirt.

Conversations and Networking

  • First names are for family members, or close friends or colleagues.

  • “Small talk” with strangers does not have a significant social function.

  • Be prepared to introduce yourself first.

  • The concept of “mingling” is not well known in Germany.

Meetings, Presentations, and Negotiation Tactics

  • Bring plenty of business cards.

  • Germans will arrive well prepared and expect the same from you.

  • Expect their business communication to be very agenda-based.

  • Germans tend to be analytical thinkers, and require a lot of facts and examples.

  • Contracts are final after signing.

Dinner Etiquette

  •  Don’t put your left hand in your lap when you eat.

  • Do not whine about the food. Try everything served to you.

  •  Make sure you say “das schmeck”-it tastes good.

  • Eat with your fork in your left and your knife in your right.

  • To get the attention of the waiter say, “Herr Ober!”

  • Don’t expect ice to come with your drink, you have to ask.

  • There are no free re-fills on drinks.


A summary of this information can be found at Executive Planet.
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