As Germans tend to make quite a strong separation between work and their private life, it is fairly unusual to be taken out for dinner and even rarer to be invited to someone’s home.
Most business entertaining is done over lunch — either in a restaurant or, at larger companies, in company facilities.

It is not unknown to talk about business during the meal, although it is probably a good idea to try to introduce a few non-work related topics. (Sport is often a good option.)

If invited out for a meal, the host will always expect to pay. Similarly, if you invite someone for a business lunch, you will be expected to pick up the bill. In Germany, the knife is used throughout the meal. Eating with only one hand, with the other hand placed on one’s lap under the table, (as is common in North America) is not considered particularly good table etiquette.

Although alcohol may be offered at a business lunch, many Germans will refrain from drinking during the working day — take the lead from your host.

It is usual to leave a tip of around 10% at the end of a meal.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Germany

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

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:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips