Business Culture In German

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[Business Culture In German]


GROUP MEMBERS: Charlene, Rita, Anne, Bonnie

First meeting other & How to introduce

When you have first meeting with some Germans, you will find it is hard to see them frown and insouciant. Because they think these actions are a bad behavior which shows less respect and friendship. When you start to introduce each other in German, You may find it's different between introduce in formal way or in informal way. In general, People at higher rank are responsible for introducing anyone who is now to the group. For example, a colleague would be introduced to his or her new colleagues by his supervisor or his mentor. A manger would introduce a new professional employee to their company. Generally speaking, you should wait until your host of hostess to introduce you to a group.


You should make a positive impression from the every beginning. The way you stand and walk probably expressing your respect for others. People may not be able to notice this gesture consciously. However, good greeting will help to create a comfortable atmosphere for a meeting. Germany takes hand-shaking very seriously.You should shake hands in a quick, firm way. It's the traditional greeting. They will shake hands on the first interview and the end of the meeting. Germany man always shakes hands on a strong way. In their point of views, they think it shows their strong characters. However, Germany men will shake hands with ladies in a gently way.When you enter a room, you should shake hands with everyone. You also need to shake hands with children.

Gift giving

In German, when visiting a foreign country on business, it is not a customer to bring gifts from one's home country. However, business communications between countries has increased greatly in the last few years. As a result, gift giving plays an important role in business activity.

Wine, Sekt, cognac, brandy, and schnapps: these are all appropriate acknowledgements of a satisfying business relationship. Others might include flowers, boxes of candy, fruit or food baskets, or a small but useful product of the company making the gift. The key point here is that since Germans rarely give presents to people they are not that close to, business gifts must keep within the bounds of reason and propriety. A good rule of thumb in this situation is that "small is dutiful". Many firms today limit themselves to the obligatory Christmas card to customers, though the widespread presentation of calendars is accepted as no more offensive than a Christmas card.

Appreciated Gifts:

  • If you are travailing to some companies, quality pens, imported liquor, or tasteful office items with your company logo are usually good choice.
  • Nice chocolates can also be a good gift when you are invited to someone's home.
  • Good imported liquor is the safest choice if you make a decision to bring alcohol.
  • If you want to give a gift for a lady, an elegant, tasteful silk scarf can be an acceptable gift.
  • A local food specialty of your home country is usually a good idea for a gift, provided it is not too exotic.
  • What you need to keep in mind is German tastes are generally on the conservative side. Especially for some older hosts.

There still some tips about gift giving:

  • You can chose flowers, such as yellow roses or tea roses for giving gift.
  • Red roses should be avoided as they symbolize romantic intentions.
  • Carnations should be avoided as they symbolize mourning.
  • Lilies or chrysanthemums are used at funerals. So do not chose them as a gift.
  • You should bring imported wines if you want to; you can choose French or Italian.
  • You should avoid giving German wines. Because the host may think you think she or he will serve a bad quality wine.
  • When you receive your gift, it usually should be opened in the meanwhile.

Small talk

Germans are always famous for their serious, careful and circumspect characteristics. Germany is a notoriously low-context culture and German businesses are plainly concerned with time, so long preliminaries are not appreciated. The typical German wants you to "get right down to business "after exchanging the minimum of pleasantries. So you should avoid too much small talk before you get the meeting started.

"Small talk" with strangers does not have a significant customer in German culture as it does in very relationship-oriented cultures or the large immigration countries. However, small talk is still very important. Making small talk in German is just the same as in English. Taking about some familiar topics like jobs, sports, and children - just say it in German!

During small talk, you have a brief conversation with people you don't know very well. Small talk can make a good atmosphere between people from different culture. Small talk can help people get to know more about each other and build a good relationships.

You should avoid asking others about theirage, occupation, marital status, religion, political background or personal income, especially for women. In German, it is common practice that you don't know many things about your colleagues.In addition, if someone buys a product which you like very much, don't ask the price about the product.Otherwise people in German may think you are always looking over other's shoulder.

Security (precautions taken to keep somebody safe from crime or danger)reducing go the risky area, such as railroad station;pay more attention to your valuable things. Be vigilant in public place to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pick pocketing.Don't cross the road when red pedestrian light is onalthough there is no car.

Concepts of time and punctuality

They emphasize the punctuality in any business meeting. If you come late of early, it will be considered as a bad manner. Because Germans always make their schedule be crammed. Punctuality can also show that you are reliable and a person makes reputation toother's company.

In German, punctuality is expected. All right, the vaunted German obsession with punctuality is exaggerated: today, even Germans show up a few minutes late for key meetings, and few of them start on the dot. However, you'd better had a good excuse when you are more than 15 minutes late for your meeting.  If you are going to be late, you should call your boss and explain why and say when you will arrive.

Attention to status and hierarchy

It is hierarchical in Germany especially in business. It is rude to send a lower ranking person to negotiate with a high ranking person. It is hard to get the same respect as malewhen female worked in the international activity.

The basic structure of a German company is rigidly hierarchical. Put that together with the standard German sense of insecurity and it is obvious why so many people within the typical German company work so hard to defend their status.

Business meals (host/guest):

German to be the host:

Dinner invitation:

(At home) If you are invited to the German home to have dinner, it is a laurel and be sure to accept it. Before the day, you should send a note let the express you were thankful. Don't be late is of course, but at the same time, don't get there too early. The best time is get there 15min before the schedule time. At the day you attend the dinner, with some flowers and offer up to the hostess. However to note that don't bring the rose, lily, Chrysanthemum, Canna, and the numbers of the flower can't be 13 and even.

The German pays attention to the eating utensils. The table should be filled with the glass, knives and forks. Different drink or the wine should use the different glass. And the knife which used to fish can't be used to meat and cheese.

(Outside) Different occasion should have different wine. For example, before the large banquet, the people are accustomed to the drink the sweet wine; the red wine will be sever when you are eating meat. During the banquet, the best comfort is to drink another glass of white wine with some cheese. After the banquet, you can have a glass of champagne for relax.

German to be the guest:

They don't like to talk about business during the meal. Knowing the diet customary would be better when you invited the foreigner.

Here are some characteristic of the German eating:

Be particular about the mix of dishes and wine, focus on the quality. Normally, dislike salty, spicy, concentrated flavor, fish and shrimp.

The base food is pasta, is fond of candy, chocolate and cake. The non-staple food is all kind of meat. The vegetable is potato, union etc. and the condiments usually is pepper, mustard, monosodium glutamate and so on. Have a preference on the Paris braised, fried, boiled, steamed dishes.

Drink: beer is the first love. Like coffer, milk and black tea.

The basic etiquette on the meal:

The men should go in front of the women when they are access to the public, but if the man and the woman on tour, the man should stand on the left by the girl. Moreover, if the duchess, the elder or the superior walk in to the room, you should get up and greet for responsible.

Banquet dining seat principle is "the right is the better". The man usually sits in the left of the lady or the man who have the high position. When the lady leaves or gets back to the table, the man should stands up. The German very care about where the host or guest, care about whether the equipment deluxe or not. In general, they prefer to have the meal in the elegant restaurant. Neat clothes are very important, the man should wear tailcoat and the lady should wear lorgnette.

If the German would like to have a Chinese food, here are some tips:

Especially love the Beijing cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine Appreciate the assorted platter, barbecued meat, Beijing roast duck, cream cucumber, crisp fried chicken, Chinese-style steak, Sweet and sour pork, braised fruit soup, fen beef, sausage, caramelized apple, melon cup and other cuisine very much.

Business meetings:

Focus on the fare dealing:

The German generally thought that it is not necessary to develop close personal relationships before the business. The friendly relationship can build up during the business meetings.


Time is very important for the meeting. On time in another word means that arrive advance. Strict adherence to time and agenda is an essential condition of the business. If you late for the meeting, or listen to the telephone, which means you are not a reliable man, and the business may not be so successful.

The expression of Business communication:

Relatively speaking, because the German is conservative, they won't show their feelings public. So they not only use the Gestures rarely, but also not use the countenance or interrupt the others.

Presentation and sales:

In term of content: A detailed statement of specific facts is the most appreciate way by the German. Rather than imaginative visual language, they prefer to see a lot of historical facts and background information.In term of the expression: presentation and sales is regarded as a severe thing, so don't use the humor language.

Negotiating style:

Bargaining: for most of German, they will feel unhappy with the strategy, which is called "first high, last low". They may think it is a grocery store's sale, so use the initial price directly. If they are facing with convince and pressure, they will unswervingly stick to their negotiating positions.

Telephone etiquette Telephone etiquette:

The steps to make a phone:

In Germany, when you listen to the call or make the call, if you on behalf of your company, then you should state the name of your company; if not, you must introduce yourself first. When you introduce yourself, you must say you first name first. And make it clear the reason why you call. Then, you should remain the one who you are going to talk to. If not, you should make an appointment or the leave a message. At the end of the call, make a pleasant expression on others. The best way is to thank for their time.

Pay attention to some tips:

During the call, the first step is the introduction, the second part is to talk about the business in detail, and the third part is to make a conclusion about the business.

There are two taboos about the phone:

For the German, if they pick up the phone, but couldn't hear anything, they may thought it Ominous, to make it sure, they will keep on reply the phone, till it get through. When you are making phone in the public, you should talk in a low voice. If in the business, performance and so on, it may be thought rude to the others. Remember to make an apology for the interruption.


There are a lot of taboos in Germany, here has some important points:

1. German hates "13" very much and they don't like "Friday", so, it calls "Black Friday" if Friday is 13th, and they will avoid doing important things in that day.

2. German won't celebrate birthday until his/her birthday, so we can't give the gift and wish "Happy Birthday" before the birthday.

3. German hates everything about Nazi, for example, the black shoes can't be with write shoelace; the clothes' color can't be blackish green; men can't cut all his hairs unless he is bald naturally; everything can't have the design about Nazi. A German hat company used the image of Hitler to advertise and it was punished.

4. Don't call the German's name directly.

5. Walnut is an unlucky sign in Germany.

6. German hates noise. For example, you can't speak loudly and play the musical instruments from 8:00p.m to 8:00a.m. If you want to hold a party, you should notice your neighbor before and you should arrange it on weekend and don't play too crazy that speak too loudly, otherwise, the neighbor may be angry and make a protest about it, more seriously, some people will find the police to solve it.

7. If they drink beer and wine at the same time, they believe that they must drink beer first; otherwise it'll be harm to their health.

8. They hate wasting and luxury, they think that it is evil.

9. You can't visit your friends without invitation. If you are invited, you must bring some gifts, you may give 5 or 7 flowers (The quantity must be singular) to the hostess and you can't give the wine as a gift because the host may think that you don't like his tease about choosing wine, you can't smoke if you can't find an ashtray in the house. Avoid visiting before and after two weeks in Christmas and Easter, Munich and Cologne carnival.

10. You can't touch and move anything in others' house or office without permission.

11. Cocoa and the literature about harm for the German safety can't be sent by post.

12. There are a lot of things that they can't be a gift. See details in Gift-giving.

13. There is taboo about time. See details in Concepts of time and punctuality.


Tipping becomes a habit not only in Germany, but also in the world. Tipping is not only a reward but also respects their services. So, it also becomes a part of politeness. If you give tips before enjoying the services, it can let you have the more comfortable services, for example, when you live in hotel, if you tip to the hotel cleaner before they clean your room, I'm sure that your room will be cleaner. In German restaurant, people like putting the change on the table as tips or giving tips with the bill. Most of German chooses the latter. They will count the price about the meal and the tips together and tell the waiter the amount, for example, if the meal costs €15.5 and €0.5 you want to tip, and you give him €20, so you just say 16 Euros, he will know what you mean and give you €4 in change. If you have €16   to give him and say "Stimmt so!" he also knows that the change will be tips.

How much we should pay the tips? Most Germans pay 3~5% of the price of meal because German waiters have based-salaries and tipping is a form of respect, and the service charge of 10~15% of the bill is also included the tips.

On the other hand, you may tip to the taxi driver about 10% of the price. You should give a little bit more tips in Hotel. Tipping to a housekeeper is €5 per night. By the way, if the service is really bad, you don't need to tip.

Proper attire (men and women)

German's clothing style is serious, simple, tidy and clean. Casual wear: German's clothes are always simple, and blue jeans are common. Men like wearing shirt or jacket as long as wearing a soft hat; they wear sandals in summer. Women like wearing the long dress with sober color and elegant pattern.

In formal occasions (such as go to social activity, banquet, see movies or operas): German men should wear formal clothes and women should wear dress, at least they must wear tidy and dark color clothes.

Business: Businessmen wear white shirts, dark suits and conservative ties, some may wear three-piece suit, and they seldom wear other kinds of clothes. Businesswomen should wear sober but also elegant (wear grey or black clothes with a string of pearls is Ok). They hope their colleagues and partners to have the same clothing style and remember that don't wear too fashionable and trendy. Pants are acceptable, but sexy or provocative clothes will have the risk that may let others have a negative impression.

Ethnic Clothing: All people in Bavaria must wear their traditional clothes (Tyrolean) to work. Women who work in Munich bank to be a teller or secretary wear Dirndl (a kind of clothes that has a white blouse with bodice and a full skirt with apron). Men wear Lederhosen (leather breeches with suspenders) with woolen stockings. They also have traditional hat for both sexes.In the other place of Germany, different region has different costumes but they're worn in festivals and other special occasions and all the traditional clothes are elaborate and special.