As in all cultures, there are various types of meetings which people will approach in different ways.
On the whole though, Germans could be described as pre-planners who like to attend meetings having done a considerable amount of preparation in order to help them debate their point of view with conviction. This sense of conviction, coupled with the often very direct nature of debate, can be mistaken by people from other cultures as intransigence, pettiness and even arrogance. Some people charge that Germans have always made up their minds on an issue before arriving at a meeting but this is not necessarily the case. They just want to argue their view point thoroughly and support it with well-researched data.
As German companies tend towards the development of specialists, rather than generalists, meetings are often large with a designated specialist from each area involved in the matter under discussion. People are expected to contribute to the debate when discussions touch their area of expertise but are not necessarily expected to have an opinion on everything.
As direct, often strong, debate is expected and encouraged in order to promote the development of the right answer, meetings can sometimes seem to be quite heated. People from those cultures whose communication style is rather more diplomatic than direct can often misinterpret these discussions as overt, deliberate confrontation.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
Germany continues to retain its position as the driving force of the European economy. It holds a pre-eminent position within the massive economic and political block that is the European Union and it shows no signs of relinquishing its position of leadership and power anytime soon.
Possibly aided by a weakened Euro, Germany is the archetypal successful modern economy with a massively effective export engine at its core. German engineering and ingenuity finds its way to all corners of the world with those exports competing from a quality angle rather than on a price basis. Whatever Germany is doing, however it is doing it – it is extremely successful and, therefore, well worth studying.
On the flip side, Germany is also a highly attractive market for your products and services and if you are not currently doing business in Germany you should certainly consider doing so. Germany has a large sophisticated consumer base with high levels of disposable income and a large manufacturing base looking for components, inspiration and expertise.
One of the keys to success when doing business in Germany is an ability to understand German business culture and the profound impact that the local business culture has when interacting with German colleagues or clients. Lack of preparation could cost you dearly; inattention to detail could result in lost opportunities. Do your homework before engaging in Germany – it’s a must.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of German business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: