5 Useful Tips Before You Start Work in Germany
To most, Germany may be the land of amazing beer and perfect schnitzels, but this country has so much more to boast than just good food and drink. Not only does Germany have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, but the country features a booming economy as one of the top vehicle manufacturers in the world. While these are all great reasons to aim towards living and working in Germany, cultural differences can often confuse newcomers hoping to make their mark in this vibrant nation’s business world. So don’t come across as an ignorant foreigner, read on to find out 5 useful tips to know before you start working in Deutschland:
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1. No To Ambiguity
German efficiency wouldn’t be what it is with ambiguous communication, which is why Germans are very careful with how they express themselves – especially in business settings. While Americans, Australians, and British might be comfortable with using sports analogies to get their points across in business discussions, you’ll only get puzzled and uneasy looks if you try to do the same in Germany. Clear communication is necessary to get things done quickly and correctly, so don’t beat around the bush –you’ll be respected more if you say exactly what you mean.
2. Yes to Planning
Planning and punctuality go hand in hand in Germany as locals are very careful with their time. Every minute is valuable and nothing is done at the very last second. Take punctuality seriously and don’t be late for meetings or business get-togethers. And remember that Germans like to plan ahead so be sure to book meetings, key telephone conversations, and other work-related activities 2-3 weeks ahead of time. And when in the meeting, follow the agenda to the letter so that you don’t waste your time or anyone else’s.
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3. No to Informality
So you’ve managed to get your meeting booked 3 weeks in advance, you’ve prepared the agenda and you’re ready to be punctual and on point. However, before you step into that boardroom, remember that business etiquette is supremely important. Keep everything formal and always give way to those senior to you. This means that your most senior counterpart should enter ahead of you and be greeted first, and you should wait to be told where to sit. If you follow this formal format you shouldn’t have any trouble navigating a typical German business meeting.
4. Yes to Dress Sense
The saying “dress for success” certainly applies in Germany where people put a great deal of stock in look and appearance. It is a source of pride for most Germans to dress well, especially when it is related to business. Even when wearing casual clothes, you should aim for neat and conventional and avoid anything flashy. Bright colors are a no-no so go for solid dark colored suits and ties and white shirts or blouses. When in doubt, always go more conservative.
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5. No to Rushing
One of the most important things to know about German business culture is that there is no shortcut to forming business relationships and connections with German counterparts. Most people may find it difficult to earn the trust of a local. Some of this has to do with the sharp manner in which Germans compartmentalize their personal and professional lives. These two aspects never mix and since privacy is so highly prized in Germany, many Germans tend to be reluctant to open up to business partners or co-workers. The good news is that if you are persistent, straight-forward, and respectful, eventually these barriers do come down, allowing you to form strong and lasting business ties.
Now that you’ve got some great tips for approaching business culture, it’s time to tackle the language aspect of the Germany equation. It’s important to remember that although sparse English is spoken in some business situations, the choice language remains German and there is no better way to gain the trust of your business partners than by learning to communicate with them in their mother tongue. The task of learning German may seem daunting, but with great language lessons and online tools such as free placement tests, you’ll find the process to be fun and enjoyable! With these tips and your new language skills, you’ll be more than ready to immerse yourself in Germany’s fascinating work and play environments.