German Culture

Business Culture

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Meetings

  • Germans take punctuality seriously. If you are running late, call in advance to let your German counterpart(s) know.
  • People enter a meeting in order of importance, the highest ranking person arriving first and so on. The same goes for introductions.
  • If you are not hosting the meeting, wait to be directed where to sit.
  • A small amount of social conversation may begin the meeting, but expect a German to get down to business very quickly.
  • Initially, meetings will likely be formal with the primary purpose of determining familiarity and trustworthiness. They will be less concerned with getting to know you personally and more interested in your credentials, but formality tends to relax as negotiations progress.
  • Meetings have strict agendas, both in regards to time frame and the goal of the meeting.
  • All parties are expected to participate in discussion an equal amount.
  • Much time is spent on a comprehensive explanation of all components of an agreement. This can seem fastidious, but this is to ensure thorough understanding on all ends.
  • Be patient and do not display any intimidation by the amount of protocol adhered to.
  • Though Germans are good listeners, you may find that their experience and overconfidence in their own abilities may prevent them from being easily persuaded.
  • Once final decisions are agreed upon, they are written into documents that explain each plan of action in detail.
  • Knocking on the table with one’s knuckles at the end of a meeting signals approval of an agreement and the conclusion of the meeting.


Plan and Target Orientated

Germans generally aim to find the most efficient way of achieving the finest quality outcome. They take great care to plan methodically and thus spend much time deliberating and scrutinising all factors of a decision. In business, they ensure the transparency of all course of action so that it can be analysed and controlled in accordance with protocol. That being said, if you make any understatements or innuendos regarding such matters, they will ask you for clarification. Furthermore, once the final and best decision has been reached, they will show very little flexibility. From then on, it will be expected that the plan agreed upon be adhered to with precision and consistency.


Task Oriented Over Relationship Oriented

Business relationships are often kept formal as Germans do not feel the necessity to build personal relationships before doing business. They will be more interested in your experience, credentials and the longevity of your company. To many Germans, business is strictly professional with no association to one’s personal life.


As a part of this business-only mindset, they tend to find excessively polite language and customs to be unnecessary and obstructive to whatever task is at hand. Whereas in other cultures, people may build rapport before easing into asking the controversial questions, Germans expect to be asked the most difficult and pressing questions first. This is not because they are rude. While they are still courteous, they often arrive straight to their point without euphemism. In the same way, a German will most likely openly disagree with you and point out your errors instead of speaking ambiguously for reasons of diplomacy and politeness. From their standpoint, softening one’s words convolutes both meaning and the process of negotiation.


Despite this strictly-business approach, Germans are open to cultivating business friendships—especially in the long term. They enjoy building rapport as long as it doesn’t negatively affect business.


Considerations

  • Workplaces in Germany are hierarchical based on experience and position.
  • Germans display a great amount of respect for those in authority and will seek to know how your position relates to theirs.
  • Although they respect those in authority, they dislike control or leadership that is solely based on status as opposed to expertise.
  • Expect a German to meticulously adhere to any regulations or rules that relate to the task.
  • When doing business, Germans may develop new binding protocols during negotiations to avoid uncertainty and inconsistency, as well as to assure your reliability.
  • When negotiating, written communication is used to record discussions and uphold agreements.
  • Germans value and expect quality work, so cutting corners is not appreciated.
  • Displays of passionate emotion, exaggerations or promises that sound too good to be true are likely to make Germans hesitant or suspicious of doing business with you.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2016), Germany ranks 10th out of 176 countries, receiving a score of 81 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is relatively clean from corruption.
Germany
  • Population
    82,652,256
    1.14% of World Population
  • Languages
    German (official)
  • Religions
    Protestant Christianity (34%)
    Catholic Christianity (34%)
    Islam (3.7%)
    Other (28.3%)
  • Ethnicities
    German (91.5%)
    Turkish (2.4%)
    Other (6.1%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (61.83%)
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 35
    Individualism 67
    Masculinity 66
    Uncertainty Avoidance 65
    Long Term Orientation 83
    Indulgence 40
    What's this?
  • Australians with German Ancestry
    898,674
Germans in Australia
  • Population
    108,003
  • Average Age
    62
  • Gender
    Males (48.5%)
    Females (52.5%)
  • Religion
    Catholic Christianity (28.2%)
    Lutheran Christianity (24.3%)
    No Religion (23.2%)
    Other (18.8%)
  • Ancestry
    German (70.9%)
    Polish (6.9%)
    English (4.2%)
    Ukrainian (2.3%)
    Other (15.7%)
  • Languages
    English (52.7%)
    German (39.8%)
    Polish (1.6%)
    Other (4.9%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (95.7%)
    Not Well (2.6%)
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (28.8%)
    Victoria (25.9%)
    Queensland (19.5%)
    South Australia (10.6%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (80.6%)
    2001-2006 (7.1%)
    2007-2011 (8.5%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country DE Flag