Understand the German way of doing business
Question to the world
How would you describe the German way of communicating?
of Australians, Brazilians, Spaniards, Finns, Japanese, Turks, US-Americans and others*:
Germans are direct, honest, sincere, undiplomatic.
They enjoy discussions, argue at meetings, interrupt if they have an objection, criticize others directly.
They seem to have more paper than verbal communication.
They answer only what has been asked and take everything literally.
Like in this situation:
"Indian software engineers are developing a part for a product that is to be assembled and distributed in Germany. There is a deadline for finishing the product. However, an important part of the information that is going to be given to the customers, and that the Indians need for the development, is apparently delayed in Germany and will not arrive in India until a month later than planned.
The Indians work extremely hard, taking no time off, in order to bring the project up to speed so that the original deadline can be met with as little delay as possible. But the matter is complicated and the end product is sent on its way to Germany two days after the deadline, finally arriving there after a two-week delay.
The Indians receive an unfriendly reply from the Germans in which a few relatively unimportant weaknesses in the part are pointed out. There is no word of thanks, no word of appreciation, no word of understanding for the transport difficulties from India to Germany, just criticism.
The Indian crew is disappointed and feel like they have not received proper acknowledgement for what they have accomplished."*
Explanation for Non-Germans
When Germans criticize something on an objective level and discuss problems with you, it is a sign of their appreciation and respect for you. It means that they are taking you seriously as a colleague.
They want to create a good cooperative working environment and work together to reach your shared objectives. Try to look at any criticism and all discussions regarding problems in this light.
You may be pleasantly surprised!*
Explanation for Germans
Be very cautious of criticism on the personal level and consider the feelings of the other person. Constructive conflict discussions should only be held if the relationship is good, the atmosphere is free of fear.
This way the other person feels able to respond, and appreciation of the person’s positive attributes is also expressed. A socially acceptable dose of criticism (not everything all at once!) is the right medicine to ensure a feeling of general well-being.*
Let's explore more case studies and how you can use this in your international business in the coaching GermanizEng.
*Source: Schroll-Machl, Doing Business with Germans