LicoReisConsultoria&Línguas Task 3784
Lico Reis Consultoria & Línguas
Rua Domingos Rois. Alves 321
Guaratinguetá - SP - Brazil
Phone: 55 12 3133 1393
Doing Business Abroad - Germany
Doing business abroad brings people face
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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