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
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Germany. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Germany and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: