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.
This country-specific business culture profile was written by Keith Warburton who is the founder of the cultural awareness training consultancy Global Business Culture.
Global Business culture is a leading training provider in the fields of cross-cultural communication and global virtual team working. We provide training to global corporations in live classroom-based formats, through webinars and also through our cultural awareness digital learning hub, Global Business Compass.
This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Germany only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.
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