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German US Communication Differences

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Improve Business Interactions: Comparison of German /US …

Improve Business Interactions: Comparison of German /US
Communication Styles

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  • 1. If you use these materials, please credit ITAP. 1 Catherine Mercer Bing If you use these materials, please credit ITAP. CEO,  ITAP International, Inc. cbing@itapintl.com ITAP International IncITAP International, Inc. 353 Nassau Street, First Floor Princeton, NJ 08540 USA (W) 1.215.860.5640 (M) 1.609.937.1557 http://www.itapintl.com …thank you… 1 ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
  • 2. l 2 Communication Styles GERMAN US AMERICANGERMAN • Opinions tend to be expressed  directly and in specific terms,  f f US AMERICAN • Opinions are expected and are  presented even when missing  ffocusing on facts • Linguistic eloquence is seen as  “admirable” supporting facts • “Short‐hand” talking is typical • Conflicts tend to be confronted,  not avoided • Conflicts tend to be considered a  personal threat and create a  defensive reaction • Compliments and praise are given  sparingly SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany • Compliments are sought and  desired ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved. SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany
  • 3. l 3 Communication Styles GERMAN US AMERICANGERMAN • Direct comments stating facts,  offering criticism are being  i ll ibl US AMERICAN • Direct comments are considered  demanding and  h ll i / i isocially responsible • Reasoning style:  analytical/deductive challenging/micro‐managing • Reasoning style: more  opinionated • Conversation topics: weather,  current events, travel, politics,  sports • Conversation topics: weather,  sports, TV, current events, travel,  “small talk”  • Taboo topics: personal questions  too soon • Taboo topics: religion, politics,  money SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved. SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany
  • 4. l 4 Communication Styles GERMAN US AMERICANGERMAN • Asking critical and incisive  questions is part of creating a  b i US AMERICAN • Asking critical questions is part of  showing how smart you are better society • Priority is given to getting to the  truth of a matter (not saving face) • Priority is given to getting your  point across and competing to  i • Critical questions are a sign of  interest in a topic not rejection of  th k win • Critical questions are considered  criticism and taken personally  (d f i lik l )the speaker SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany (defensive response likely) SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
  • 5. 5 What Causes Misunderstandings? Directness of Germans… • honesty highly valued • used when stating facts, offering criticism, issuing direct  commandscommands • related to desire for clarity and dislike of ambiguity • honesty and clarity gains one respect and credibility German verbal habits reinforcing directness: • use of “upgraders”: definitely, absolutely, totally • se of nq alified es or no statements• use of unqualified yes or no statements • direct contradictions • frequent use of “have to” (müssen) and should (sollen)q ( ) ( ) • use of direct imperatives SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
  • 6. C t ti P bl l i St l 6 German US American Contrasting  Problem‐solving Styles German • The perfect solution is sought US American • A fast appropriate solution is  sought (Just do it!) • Negative issues are examined in  great detail • Mistakes are seen as negative sought (Just do it!) • Negative issues are reluctantly  brought into the open • Mistakes are seen as growthMistakes are seen as negative • Regulations determine what you  are permitted to do Mistakes are seen as growth  opportunities • Regulations determine what you  are not permitted to dop SOURCE:  Moosmueller, Alois, Kulturen in Interaktion: Deutsche und US‐Amerikanische  Firmenendsandte in Japan, Waxmann Verlag, Münster, 1997Firmenendsandte in Japan, Waxmann Verlag, Münster, 1997 ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
  • 7. 7 Projects: Different Viewpoints Germans tend to Americans tend to think Americans tend to Germans tend to thinktend to… tend to think… tend to… tend to think… Project idea … collect information “Why are they doing this?” …chat informally about an idea “Why aren't they doing anything?” Project Meetings … get down to b i “They are cold and f i dl ” …begin with small talk “They are wasting i ”business unfriendly” time.” … present detailed plans “How can they discuss details at this stage?” … begin with brainstorming “They are not prepared for the meeting.” express criticism “They don't like each be enthusiastic about “They are not…express criticism openly They don't like each other/me” …be enthusiastic about all ideas They are not sincere.” Project Process … work individually on the task assigned to them b li l l “They don't communicate or work as a team” …hold frequent meetings; change tasks as i t “There are too many meetings; we can't get our work done.” … believe clearly defined milestones guarantee success circumstances change … believe continuous contact guarantees success SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany ©2013 ITAP International, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

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