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.
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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