Like I mentioned above, Germany has around 82 million residents. This means it is the largest EU country in terms of population. I would describe it as a modern, multicultural country. The society is molded by a variety of lifestyles. There are traces of some truly different ethno cultural diversity. Even though a lot of social changes took place, the family is still the most important social reference unit. Young people have really good relationships with their parents.
Local architecture, music, literature, art and sports are fields which reflect the socio-cultural scene of Germany. The unique architectural styles of the country are the result of the fragmentation during centuries. Some mentionable sites include the Abbey Church of St. Michaels, the Speyer Cathedral, and the Cologne Cathedral. Germany has been home to many renowned classical music composers like Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Johann Sebastian Bach and Richard Wagner. It is flourishing in the music market.
German literature dates back to the Middle Ages. It is world famous. Popular local authors include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Hesse. Every year, the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the biggest book fair ever, is held.
Some of the best art pieces were made in Germany. It is also popular for its old tradition in visual arts. Awesome German innovations include printmaking, Gothic art, and wooden engravings. Some of the Major renaissance artists like Hans Holbein the Younger and Matthias Grunewald were from Germany.
Many international sporting events have represented Germany in the past. This includes FIFA World Cup, Formula One, Summer Olympics, ice hockey and tennis tournaments. It is among the leading motor sports countries. It manufactures motor brands like BMW and Mercedes.
Core Cultural and Business Etiquette
The concept of being German was one of having German lineage. As immigration patterns have changed the composition of the German population, assimilation into a German mindset and the way of doing things properly remains important. German identity also includes pride in one’s achievements and privacy.
Ordnung can be most accurately described as a set of rules on how things should be done correctly. It permeates daily life as well as how things should be done in a work environment. Structures are strongly valued and are expected to be adhered to once they are defined. Germans are known for their planning skills, which they use even in minor aspects of a business environment. Cultures who are intuitive or ‘go with the flow’ may need to rethink some of their strategies when working within a German environment.
German culture places a high value on clarity. This means an appreciation for precision, accuracy, attention to detail and directness in communication to ensure there are few misunderstandings between people.
Important Business Values
Respect boundaries, including personal space, formalities in greeting, and closed office doors. Do not come across as too informal or not serious in a business environment.
It would not be appropriate in most business environments to ask personal questions of a German, including family matters or a personal opinion about something outside of work. General conversations about current events that remain neutral or to learn more about a topic are usually acceptable.
Germans value the separation of their work life and their private life. They are almost certainly likely to focus on the job at hand, with little small talk or need to establish anything more than a functional working relationship, at least in the initial stages of working with others.
Tasks done well
Planning, structure, and order all mean that there is an expectation that tasks will be thoroughly researched, analysed, given specific definitions and instructions, and are ultimately done well. German values include a high regard for accuracy, precision, quality, orderliness, and tidiness. German pride in engineering is probably not matched anywhere else in the world. Germans are likely to adhere to the adage that there is a time and a place for everything.
Do be aware that once Germans determine the ‘right’ way of doing something, it would be very unlikely that they would consider new alternatives unless you are able to thoroughly convince them otherwise. This would almost certainly involve restarting a task or project from the beginning, including the planning stages.
German communication styles are very direct, to the point that many other cultures may consider Germans to be rude and unemotional. However, Germans see their directness as an asset, minimising the chance for misinterpretation or being too vague. Germans generally prefer others to say what they mean directly as well. Although Germans can be somewhat formal in their business structure, they would not appreciate it if a problem is discovered but no one raised the issue, even if the problem caused difficulty.
Do’s and Don’ts
Although most Germans will overlook small political and social faux pas, visitors doing business in Germany should be aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardise their business relationship.
Thoroughly prepare for meetings in advance
Structured agendas are generally appreciated
Pay attention to detail
Be exactly on time as most Germans will consider punctuality a must. It is much better to arrive early and wait nearby until the time of your appointment, even if you feel your time could be used in a more productive way.
Show respect for German colleagues’ achievements, including status, job titles and education
Include professional titles and qualifications on your business cards if you have them
Be late. It is not unusual for some German companies to ask you to rebook an appointment even if you are only a few minutes late.
Discuss difficult political or social topics
Expect to finish a meeting without agreeing on specific tasks, deadlines, commitments or next steps from all parties involved.
Try not to be vague.
Generally speaking, although Germans do have a very good sense of humour, it is not appropriate to joke around in a business environment, especially during meetings or to deflect a difficult situation.