More than manners
Tips for business professionals visiting Germany
Graff & Gretchen
Germany is a major trading partner for many countries throughout
the world, not to mention the most important single market in the
European Union. Almost everyone wants to be active in this market,
and for the most part, almost everyone already is. For this reason,
stiff competition exists among many almost identical products and
This fact not only leads to increased pressure to differentiate
product quality and characteristics, but it also increases the importance
of how a business presents itself to the German market. Of course,
a company's products play a large roll in its performance, but,
more subtly, so do its employees.
Most of us know just how important social behavior are when doing
business in our own cultures, and this holds true when working abroad
as well. Whether one is taking part in trade fairs, carrying out
price negotiations with partners or colleagues, talking with end-customers,
or applying for a job abroad, appropriate business conduct helps
create mutual trust and understanding and is, therefore, often the
key to business cooperation and success.
But what behavior are expected in Germany, a country where the
people are known for their guttural language, their obsession with
"Ordnung", their square-jawed seriousness, and other habits
You can help ensure the achievement of business success with the
Germans when you are informed about the cultural differences and
expectations in Germany and the situations in which they are important.
It is then possible to act appropriately when the time comes and
improve your chances of closing that "big deal" or establishing
respectful working relationships thus setting yourself and your
organization ahead of the competition.
The purpose of this book is to help the business professional
or student prepare for an assignment in Germany. We surfed the web,
combed through the literature, and talked to a whole spectrum of
foreign professionals working in Germany. After lots of brainstorming,
we developed a list of practical and useful guidelines for helping
business students and professionals negotiate the social challenges
of a business encounter. Our advice is also designed to help avoid
uncomfortable situations and tactfully handle predictable and unpredictable
situations at all social levels in German business. Correct conduct
with German colleagues and customers, how to master negotiations,
the correct tone to use in e-mails and letters, and table manners
are just some of the topics that can prepare you for a successful
trip to Deutschland.
This book is divided into three sections.
- The first section contains ten basic behavior tips,
- the second section will provide you with a few guidelines on
applying for a job or an internship in Germany, and
- the last few chapters contain tips on the more baffling aspects
of German business culture such as carrying out negotiations,
networking, and dealing with conflict.
Because these tips can be just as helpful for actual Germans, we
have written the book in both German and English. As a foreigner,
you should take advantage of the dual language aspect of the book,
and refer to the glossary to help you understand key terms. Finally,
remember that cultural differences might seem daunting at first,
but they are also what attract us to foreign cultures and essentially
make doing business in foreign countries challenging, interesting,
At this point, the authors would like to mention that this book
could not have developed into its final form without the cooperation
and intense discussion that took place between both English and
German native speakers, and we would like to thank everyone who
assisted us. We especially thank Nicholas Lusty from England and
Barbara Parsons and Jason Rihel from the USA for their help with
the English version, as well as Gerhard Beck, Kristina Zimmermann
and Frauke Thiele for their help with the German version.
A special thanks goes to Alexandra von Rohr, who, through her ongoing
work with German language and business courses ( www.businessgerman.com),
was able to guide and inspire us throughout the writing process.
We also appreciate the creative work of Günter Mayer (www.comixart.de)
and thank him for his never-ending patience and his talents, which
allowed us to illustrate the book and give it its own personality.
Finally, we thank all of the teachers and students in the German
intensive courses at the TREFFPUNKT
Language Institute. If it hadn't
been for their questions, expectations, ideas, and perceptions of
cultural differences, the motivation for this book would never have
To read current updates on the topics in this book, to find out
about related topics check our website. In the near future there
will also be a discussion forum.
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