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Germany - Doing Business Abroad - 3784

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  • 1. Task 3784 Lico Reis Consultoria & Línguas Rua Domingos Rois. Alves 321 Doing Business Abroad - Germany Guaratinguetá - SP - Brazil licoreis@licoreis.com Www.licoreis.com Doing business abroad brings people face Phone: 55 12 3133 1393 to face with different cultures and practices. Prior to travelling to another country it is the norm not to consider factors such as differences in meeting etiquette, negotiation styles and business protocol. However, it is precisely these areas one should be addressing before doing business abroad if the success of the trip is to be given a better chance. A lack of cross cultural understanding leads those doing business abroad to form stereotypes. Common terms used to describe Germany include humourless, aggressive, distant, stubborn and obsessed with details. Lico Reis Consultoria & Línguas There are elements of truth within each, yet all emanate from our own cultural programming. For example, in the UK it is acceptable to swap jokes and have Doing Business Abroad informal chats at work. When a Britain is doing business in Germany it is therefore likely that they will interpret the strict formality as dull and humourless. On the other hand, a German doing business in the UK may interpret working practices in the UK as unprofessional and unproductive. Oganizations Germans are often uneasy with uncertainty, ambiguity and unquantifiable risk. This has become manifest in both social and business spheres. Socially, Germans lean towards conservatism and conformism. When doing business in Germany it is possible to notice a heavy emphasis on careful planning, consideration, consultation and consensus. This has developed an appreciation for detail, facts and statistics. Organisation is a means of negating uncertainty and averting risk. Avertion to Risk The emphasis on conformity combined with a fear of the unknown makes Germans very apprehensive about risk. Security is guaranteed through risk analysis. This is achieved through careful deliberation and scrutiny based upon factual evidence as opposed to intuition or 'gut-feeling'. Written documentation is seen as the safest and most objective medium for analysis. A painstaking review of details ensures all relevant information has been taken into consideration.
  • 2. Communication Germans value their privacy. Mentally there is a divide between public and private life. As a result, Germans wear a protective shell when doing business. Since intimacy is not freely given, this may be interpreted as coldness. However, this is not the case. After a period of time walls and barriers eventually fall allowing for more intimate relationships to develop. Communication styles in Germany may be perceived as direct, short and to the point. Formality dictates that emotions and unnecessary content do not have a place in conversation. Meeting & Greeting Firm, brief handshakes are the norm when doing business in Ger- many. When several people are being introduced take turns to greet each other rather than reaching over someone else's hands. Avoid shaking hands with one hand in your pocket. When women enter a room it is considered polite for men to stand. German etiquette requires you to address someone using Herr (Mr.) or Frau (Mrs/Ms) followed by their surname. Only family members and friends use first names. Professional titles should also be used for doctors, academics, etc. Try and establish professional titles prior to any meeting. Humour A common misconception is that the German sense of professionalism and strict protocol when doing business leaves no room for humour. An element of this true in that jokes are not commonplace. Yet Germans, just as much as anyone else, like to laugh and as long as it is appropriate, tasteful and in context then humour is acceptable. Meetings and Negotiations Germans plan ahead. Therefore, ensure you book meetings at least 2-3 weeks in advance. This is also applicable if you wish to have lengthy telephone conversations. Meetings are usually held between 11-1 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. Avoid Friday afternoons, the holiday months of July, August and December and any regional festivals. Meetings are functional, formal and usually stick to a set agenda including start and finish times. The phrase 'let's get down to business' is definitely appropriate for German business meetings as small talk and relationship building are not priorities. www.licoreis.com - licoreis@licoreis.com - Twitter: Licoreis E-books: www.migre.me/oQ5 - Linkedin: www.migre.me/1d9r