The Right Business Etiquette in Germany

Culture differences, customs, and understanding mindsets are important components when conducting business in any country. It forms the foundation upon which strong business relationships across continents can be built.

Germany has many strong ties with India, with Germany recently encouraging more study opportunities to be taken up in the field of research. A large number of Indians already travel there each year either on business, to live and work or to study. Therefore, it is worth knowing a little about the way that business is conducted in advance.

Misunderstanding body language, communication or cultural aspects of a country can lead to disaster if not researched for the basics beforehand.

Structure and Planning

Germany business can be associated with rigid agendas that revolve around a structure and detailed planning and this is the case in reality when negotiating business. A favorable preference by managers and another senior staff is directed towards those who can demonstrate seriousness, forward-thinking and structure that does not defer from a plan.

Introductions to new staff must be brief yet concise, and when speaking in meetings showing a high level of preparation and professionalism in your speaking and through your paperwork.

When giving a speech in a meeting, it is certainly beneficial if you can speak logically and with the back-up of evidence and facts to get your points heard.

Formal Practices

Business customs tend to be somewhat formal and conservative when it comes to meetings, networking, and discussion. When meeting somebody for the first time and when departing, a firm handshake is seen as the most acceptable action. It is also customary to exchange business cards, so make sure you have some to hand.

When speaking to people, surnames as well as titles should be referred to, as Germans in business lean towards showing recognition and acknowledgement towards those who are in command or senior, and those who are not.

Though many employees and senior managers are able to speak in English, German is a preferred language of choice. If German is not your strong point, at least by learning some basic phrases you can get to a respectable position. Greetings can take the form of a ‘Hallo’ or a ‘Guten tag’, meaning good morning.

Time Management

Punctuality is most certainly a high expectation and being even five minutes late is seen as disrespectful and unacceptable practices – it won’t get a business relationship off to a good start and your reliability may be questioned.If running late for a reason out of your control, it is best to call the company ahead and explain the situation. This will be more forgiving – but don’t make it more than a one-off occasion.

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