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Germany Business Etiquette, Culture, & Manners

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Germany Introduction

The Federal Republic of Germany has a population of 81 million people and is roughly the size of Montana.  Germany’s religions are split evenly between Roman Catholics, who are concentrated in the southern part of the country, and Protestants, who are found in the northern region. Germany's economy ranks as the largest in Europe, and the third largest in the world, behind the U.S. and Japan.

The decision-making process in Germany is much slower than in the United States, and this can be troublesome to U.S. executives. Be prepared for the process to take much longer, as there is often a "hidden" group of advisors and decision makers that must approve of any transaction that is to occur.

 

Germany Fun Fact

Germany went through a unification process, bringing the East and the West together. Although there still continues to be sensitivities between the two regions, the integration both economically and technologically is moving forward.

Of Germany is the home of world famous Oktoberfest, or Wiesn, which is a 16-day annaul festival held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, from late September to the first weekend in October. It's one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year.

The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.,


Geert Hofstede Analysis for Germany


The Geert Hofstede analysis for Germany shows their emphasis on individualism, masculinity, and uncertainty avoidance. Power distance and long-term orientation are both ranked considerably lower than the others. This illustrates Germany’s belief in equality and opportunity for each citizen, as well as its ability to change and adapt rapidly.  More Details

 

Religion in Germany


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

 

German Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance  Business dress in Germany is very conservative.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Businessmen wear dark suits; solid, conservative ties, and white shirts.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women also dress conservatively, in dark suits and white blouses.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Chewing gum while talking to someone is considered rude.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Don't be surprised if occasionally you see a fashion statement with white socks being worn with a dark suit.

 

German Behavior 

  Germans are strongly individualistic.

  The German thought process is extremely thorough, with each aspect of a project being examined in great detail. This process is often times very time-intensive. However, once the planning is over, a project will move very quickly and deadlines are expected to be honored.

  Germans do not like surprises. Sudden changes in business transactions, even if they may improve the outcome, are unwelcome.

  German citizens do not need or expect to be complimented. In Germany, it is assumed that everything is satisfactory unless the person hears otherwise.

  Punctuality is necessity in Germany. Arrive on time for every appointment, whether for business or social. Being late, even if it is only by a few minutes, is very insulting to a German executive.

  In business situations, shake hands at both the beginning and the end of a meeting.   Additionally, a handshake may be accompanied with a slight bow. Reciprocating the nod is a good way to make a good impression, as failure to respond with this nod/bow (especially a superior) may get you off to a bad start. Be sure to look directly into the person's eyes while shaking hands.

  When being introduced to a woman, wait to see if she extends her hand.

  Business is viewed as being very serious, and Germans do not appreciate humor in a business context.

  In business meetings, age takes precedence over youth. If you are in a group setting, the eldest person enters first.

  Germans keep a larger personal space around them, approximately 6 inches more space than North Americans do. However, it is not unusual that when in line at a store cash register, Germans will crowd up very close to the person in front of them.

  People that have worked together for years still shake hands each morning as if it were the first time they met.

  German men frequently great each other with Herr 'last name', even when they know each other very well.

  Germans are able to consume large quantities of beer in one evening, but public drunkenness is not acceptable. It is best to know your limits, especially in Bavaria where two liters of beer is an ordinary evening. Pace yourself and eat plenty of food.

  Typically, you do not wait to be seated in German restaurants, and it is not uncommon to share a table with strangers. However, most Germans will think it odd if you try to initiate a conversation with them beyond just establishing that the chairs are available.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Considering sending a gift to someone in Germany? See this information

 

German Communications 

  German is the official language.

  Approximately ninety-nine percent of the population speaks German. However, there are several different dialects in the various regions.

  Germans love to talk on the telephone. While important business decisions are not made over the phone, expect many follow up calls or faxes.

  Germans guard their private life, so do not phone a German executive at home without permission.

  Titles are very important to Germans. Do your best to address people by their full, correct title, no matter how extraordinarily long that title may seem to foreigners. This is also true when addressing a letter.

 

 
German Resources

International Business Center Newsletter
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Site Resource Page

International Career Center

Factbook on Germany

German Newspapers

Global Etiquette Guide: Germany

U.S. Embasssy on Living in Germany

General information on Germany

German Federal Statistics Office

Yahoo.com Germany resources

Index of Business in Germany

Executive Planet

American Chamber of Commerce in Germany

Germany - Consular Travel Information Sheet

Travel Resources

Yahoo Travel Guide - Weather, Country Profile and Currency converter.

Germany Today - Tourism information service, history, culture, food, hotels

Excite Travel Germany - Maps, Reservations, Farefinder, Related Books, Fact Sheet, What to Do

Other Resources

Yahoo! Germany

General information about Germany

Library of Congress Area Handbook Series - Germany

The German Way - Travel info, links, and informatioon on everything from autobahns to The Wall

Berlin Info - Comprehensive English/German/French guide to Berlin - Information on culture, tourism, history, politics, transport, economy, nature, and more.

Made-In-Germany - A search engine to find products, technologies and services from Germany

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