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 >  Home   >   Glossary
German Business Etiquette in English

german business etiquette business knigge

- Key words from A to Z

Ade - Good-bye - a form of good-bye that is heard in Northern Bavaria. See Chapter 26.

Annual reports - Geschäftsberichte - financial statements that are published by a company for its shareholders and that assess a company's performance in raising, handling, and using money. In general, a company's annual report consists of an operating statement, a balance sheet, and sometimes a statement of cash flow. See Chapter 18.

Arbeitsamt - German employment office - located in all larger cities and towns, these offices allow one to register for a job in the case of unemployment. These are also the offices where foreigners can receive work permits for working in Germany. See Chapter 16.

Aptitude test - Eignungstest - a standardized test, often administered during a first or second interview, which is designed to measure the ability of a potential employee to develop skills or acquire knowledge. See Chapter 19.

Auf Wiedersehen - Good-bye - a formal form of good-bye that can be used in almost all situations in Germany. See Chapter 26.

Behavior code - Verhalteskodex - the appropriate way one should act and make decisions in order to uphold company values and meet an employer's approval. See Chapter 24.

Blind application - Blindbewerbung - or a speculative application, is an application for a job which has not been advertised, but for which one applies of his or her own initiative. See Chapter 16.

Business arena - Geschäftswelt or geschäftliches Umfeld - term used to refer to any or all situations that involve business activities.

Code of dress - Kleidervermerke - a set of rules or formally imposed standards that indicate the approved manner of dress. For example, the company's white-shirt black-tie dress code. See Chapter 7.

Commercial registries - Handelsregister - a public registry administered by a country's government, which contains key information on legal entities engaging in economic activity. See Chapter 18.

Corporate ladder - Karriereleiter - term used to describe the different levels within a company. Each ring on a ladder is analogous with an administrative level and its respective position, salary, and status. When one "climbs the corporate ladder", they are promoted within the company. See Chapter 24.

Corporate hierarchy - Unternehmenshierarchie - the organization of employees into different ranks, tasks, and salary levels, which is usually found in the upper levels of an organization. See Chapters 1 and 2.

Corporate principles - Unternehmensleitbild - a set of guidelines (mission, vision, code of conduct, etc.) within an organization that are expected to be upheld and promoted by all of an organization's employees. The corporate principles are often formulated by the employees, and serve as a basis for the definition of corporate goals and tasks. See Chapter 24.

Distance zones - Distanzzonen - the physical distance between individuals that defines their relationship and their interaction with each other. Different countries respect different distance zones in different ways. See Chapter 12 for definitions of several different distance zones and details about how to recognize the zones in Germany.

Du - informal "you" - used to address family members or close friends, and indicates a personal relationship between two people. If you address someone with "Du" you would also call him or her by their first name. See Chapter 4.

Einen guten Appetit - Enjoy your meal - compared to "Mahlzeit", this more-contemporary phrase is a polite way to wish somebody a good meal in Germany. See Chapter 6.

Frau - Mrs. - formal title used to refer to a married or unmarried woman in Germany, which is used in combination with the pronoun "Sie". See Chapter 4.

Gegen - Around - used to describe an approximate, not an exact, time. See Chapter 26.

Gleichfalls - The same to you - word used as a reply to a greeting or a congratulation in Germany. See Chapter 6.

Grüss Gott - literally: Greet God - the standard daily greeting that is used in the regions of Bavaria, Baden Wurttemberg, and also Switzerland and Austria. See Chapter 3.

Guten Tag - Good Day - the standard daily greeting that is used in Northern Germany (not in Bavaria or Baden Wurttemberg). See Chapter 3.

Hamburger Sie - addressing someone with "Sie" and his or her first name. In comparison, when addressing a colleague or client on a professional basis, "Sie" (formal "you") is normally used in combination with one's last name. See Chapter 4.

Hand shake initiative - Handreichrecht - depending on the situation, the initiative an individual should take in extending his or her hand for handshaking. The right to this initiative is dictated by etiquette tips found in Chapter 2.

Handy - Cellular phone or mobile - the word used to describe a cell phone or mobile in Germany. Several etiquette tips should be followed when using a handy, see Chapter 9.

Hauptbahnhof - Train station - See Chapter 15.

Headhunter - Headhunter - a personnel recruiter who tries to persuade someone to leave their job by offering them another job with more pay and a higher position. See Chapter 16.

Herr - Mr. - formal title used to refer to a man in German, which is used in combination with the pronoun "Sie". See Chapter 4.

House wine - Hauswein - a wine that a restaurant produces itself or the favourite wine of the restaurant's owner. The quality of a house wine is usually comparable to the quality of the restaurant. See Chapter 8.

ICE (Inter City Express) - the most modern and fastest train in the German railroad system that connects large metropolitan areas within Germany. See Chapter 15.

IC/EC (Inter City and Euro City) - trains in the German railroad system that connect the major city centers of Germany and its neighboring countries in a matter of hours. See Chapter 15.

IR (Inter Regio) - trains in the German railroad system that connect larger and middle-sized German cities within short time spans. See Chapter 15.

Industrial fair - Industriemesse - a large show or public event at which producers, sellers and buyers in a particular industry meet, and sell and advertise their products. See Chapter 15.

Industry reports - Branchenbericht - a report on a particular industry (ex: furniture, auto, computer) that describes the industry, the major participants, the market characteristics, and the respective current industry conditions, industry performance, and key figures. See Chapter 18.

Interim certificate - Zwischenzeugnis - a job reference certificate that is requested during (not after) one's employment in a department or at a company. See Chapter 20.

Job fair - Bewerbermesse or Jobmesse - an exhibition intended to inform people about the jobs or business opportunities available at different companies. See Chapter 16.

Job profile - Stellenbeschreibung - a written definition of primary job duties, key responsibilities, and reporting relationships of the position, as well as the education, experience, and personal characteristics sought in a candidate. See Chapter 18.

Kein Problem - No problem - a problematic phrase that should be avoided in Germany because it can be interpreted in so many different ways. See Chapter 6.

Liegeplätze - Couch - second class sleeping compartments that usually contain four or six beds that can be booked for overnight train rides. See Chapter 15.

Mahlzeit - Enjoy your meal - an old-fashioned phrase that is often used at lunchtime at a business or a factory in Germany. See Chapter 6.

Mediator - Unterhändler - a negotiator who, by talking to two separate people or groups involved in a disagreement, helps them come to a mutual agreement. See Chapter 23.

Mentor - Betreuer - a person responsible for teaching a newcomer how to do their job when they first start at a company. See Chapter 1.

MfG (Mit freundlichen Grüßen) - With friendly greetings - an impolite abbreviation that should not be used in e-mails in Germany. See Chapter 6.

Negotiations - Verhandlungen - formal preliminary discussions that lead up to the adoption of an agreement between two parties. For example, you negotiate a pay increase with your boss. See Chapter 21.

Netiquette - Netiquette - the etiquette rules that govern one's activities, including the writing of e-mail, while working on the Internet. See Chapter 11.

Nichtraucher - Non-smoking - used to describe the non-smoking wagons that can be reserved on a German train. See Chapter 15.

Pfietigott - May God protect you - a form of good-bye that is heard in Bavaria. See Chapter 26.

Raucher - Smoking - used to describe the smoking wagons that can be reserved on a German train. See Chapter 15.

RB (Regional Bahn) - standard, economical trains in the German railroad system that stop at all train stations along their way. See Chapter 15.

RE (Regional Express) - similar to RB trains, these trains stop at most, but not all, train stations along their way. See Chapter 15.

Reference certificate - Arbeitszeugnis - an official certificate that is required by most employers as a form of reference from previous employers when applying for a job in Germany. These certificates should be requested from all employers to ensure that you can show proof of your tasks and your performance. See Chapter 20.
Resume gap - Lücke im Lebenslauf - a gap in employment or schooling that usually leaves an unaccounted for period of time in one's resume and could be viewed negatively by potential employers. See Chapter 20.

Salary pyramid - Gehaltspyramide - refers to the different salary levels within a company. The many positions at the lower pay levels form the basis of the pyramid. The salaries increase as one moves up the pyramid, but the number of positions decreases. At the tip of the pyramid sit the top administrative positions (ex: CEO or President). In a salary pyramid, commissioned work usually plays a minimal role. See Chapter 22.

Salary report - Gehaltsspiegel or Vergütungsstudie - a report containing varied statistical averages for a defined job in a specific industry. Besides salary averages, the reports usually contain statements about individual companies with respect to turnover, company size, company locations, personnel contacts, and other job incentives such as company cars, pension plans, bonuses, and paid overtime. See Chapter 19.

S-Bahn - trains in the German railroad system that connect the centers of Germany's big cities with the city's surrounding areas quickly and at frequent intervals. See Chapter 15.

Seniority - Dienstalter - a status attained by working for a company for a long period of time. In some institutions, individuals with more seniority are given priority for promotion and salary increases. See Chapter 1.

Schlafplätze - Sleeping cot - first class sleeping compartments that only contain two beds and can be booked for overnight train rides. See Chapter 15.

Schönen Abend - Have a good evening - phrase used to say good-bye in the late afternoon or evening. To simply greet someone in the late afternoon or evening say, "Guten Abend!" See Chapter 6.

Schwierigkeit - Difficutly - the German word used to describe problems. See Chapter 21.

Servus -Hello or Good-bye - a form of hello and good-bye in Southern Bavaria or Austria. See Chapter 26.
Sie - formal "you" - used in German to address someone who is not a close friend or family member. If you address someone with "Sie", you would also address him or her with their title and last name. See Chapter 4.

Small talk - Small talk - informal or unimportant conversation that can be used in a business atmosphere to lighten-up awkward situations or lend a personal tone to a situation. See Chapter 3.

Social Network - Beziehungsnetzwerk or soziales Netz - term used to describe the personal and/or professional contacts that one builds with others. See Chapter 25.

Stereotype - Vorurteil or Klischee (Klischeevorstellung) - a fixed set of ideas that are generally held about the characteristics of a particular type of person, which are (wrongly) believed to be shared by all people of that type. For example, a typical stereotype would be to claim that all Germans are stubborn. See Chapter 14.

Trinkgeld - Tip - the extra amount of money that is customarily left for the server to compliment the service at a restaurant. There are several rules on tip leaving that can be found in Chapter 8.

Tschüss - Good-bye - a short form of good-bye that is frequently used in Germany on a personal or informal basis. See Chapter 26.

U-Bahn - trains in the German railroad system that make up the underground metro lines that run under most big German cities. See Chapter 15.

Unwritten/hidden rules - ungeschriebene Gesetze - the culture, or particular code of behavior and decision making that is expected of a company's employees. This is usually difficult to decipher for new employees. See Chapter 24.

Vielen Dank - Thank you very much - formal phrase for thanking someone in Germany. See Chapter 6.

Vorstellungsgespräch - Job interview - the step in the application process that involves introducing yourself at a company after they have reviewed your application and decide to further consider you for the position. See Chapter 18.

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