German and US
Communication Differences
1
Catherine Mercer Bing
Managing Director,
ITAP Americas, Inc.
2
Communication Styles
GERMAN
• Opinions tend to be expressed
directly and in specific terms,
focusing on facts
• Linguist...
3
Communication Styles
GERMAN
• Direct comments stating facts,
offering criticism are being
socially responsible
• Reasoni...
4
Communication Styles
GERMAN
• Asking critical and incisive
questions is part of creating a
better society
• Priority is ...
5
What Causes
Misunderstandings?
Directness of Germans…
• honesty highly valued
• used when stating facts, offering critic...
6
German
• The perfect solution is sought
• Negative issues are examined in
great detail
• Mistakes are seen as negative
•...
7
©2013 ITAP International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Projects: Different Viewpoints
Germans
tend to…
Americans
tend to th...
8
Catherine Mercer Bing
CEO, ITAP International, Inc.
cbing@itapintl.com
ITAP International
353 Nassau Street, First Floor...
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German US Communication Differences

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Improve Business Interactions: Comparison of German /US
Communication Styles

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German US Communication Differences

  1. 1. German and US Communication Differences 1 Catherine Mercer Bing Managing Director, ITAP Americas, Inc.
  2. 2. 2 Communication Styles GERMAN • Opinions tend to be expressed directly and in specific terms, focusing on facts • Linguistic eloquence is seen as “admirable” • Conflicts tend to be confronted, not avoided • Compliments and praise are given sparingly SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany US AMERICAN • Opinions are expected and are presented even when missing supporting facts • “Short-hand” talking is typical • Conflicts tend to be considered a personal threat and create a defensive reaction • Compliments are sought and desired
  3. 3. 3 Communication Styles GERMAN • Direct comments stating facts, offering criticism are being socially responsible • Reasoning style: analytical/deductive • Conversation topics: weather, current events, travel, politics, sports • Taboo topics: personal questions too soon US AMERICAN • Direct comments are considered demanding and challenging/micro-managing • Reasoning style: more opinionated • Conversation topics: weather, sports, TV, current events, travel, “small talk” • Taboo topics: religion, politics, money SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany
  4. 4. 4 Communication Styles GERMAN • Asking critical and incisive questions is part of creating a better society • Priority is given to getting to the truth of a matter (not saving face) • Critical questions are a sign of interest in a topic not rejection of the speaker SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany US AMERICAN • Asking critical questions is part of showing how smart you are • Priority is given to getting your point across and competing to win • Critical questions are considered criticism and taken personally (defensive response likely)
  5. 5. 5 What Causes Misunderstandings? Directness of Germans… • honesty highly valued • used when stating facts, offering criticism, issuing direct commands • 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 • use of unqualified yes or no statements • direct contradictions • frequent use of “have to” (müssen) and should (sollen) • use of direct imperatives SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany
  6. 6. 6 German • The perfect solution is sought • Negative issues are examined in great detail • Mistakes are seen as negative • Regulations determine what you are permitted to do US American • A fast appropriate solution is sought (Just do it!) • Negative issues are reluctantly brought into the open • Mistakes are seen as growth opportunities • Regulations determine what you are not permitted to do Contrasting Problem-solving Styles SOURCE: Moosmueller, Alois, Kulturen in Interaktion: Deutsche und US- Amerikanische Firmenendsandte in Japan, Waxmann Verlag, Münster, 1997
  7. 7. 7 ©2013 ITAP International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Projects: Different Viewpoints Germans tend to… Americans tend to think… Americans tend to… Germans 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 business “They are cold and unfriendly” …begin with small talk “They are wasting time.” … present detailed plans “How can they discuss details at this stage?” … begin with brainstorming “They are not prepared for the meeting.” …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 … believe clearly defined milestones guarantee success “They don't communicate or work as a team” …hold frequent meetings; change tasks as circumstances change … believe continuous contact guarantees success “There are too many meetings; we can't get our work done.” SOURCE: TWIST Consulting/ITAP Germany
  8. 8. 8 Catherine Mercer Bing CEO, ITAP International, Inc. cbing@itapintl.com ITAP International 353 Nassau Street, First Floor Princeton, NJ 08540 USA (W) 1.215.860.5640 (M) 1.609.937.1557 http://www.itapintl.com Q & A …thank you… 7

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