Understanding German Customs and Culture Helps Create a Rewarding Experience

Germany is a popular destination for tourists looking for fun and adventure as well as businesses looking to expand their customer base. As the center of Europe from a German Flag Imagegeographic and economic standpoint, Germany has much to offer. But before you don your lederhosen and head off to Oktoberfest or pack your briefcase for a corporate meeting with potential new business partners, it’s good to know some of the German customs and social protocols you’ll encounter.
Language & Communication
German is spoken by 95 percent of the population. Other languages include Serbian, Danish, Turkish and Kurdish. The ethnic makeup of the country is: German (91.5%), Turkish (2.4%), and Other (6.1%), which is mostly Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish.
Always an industrious people, Germans value hard work, community and orderliness. They take pride in their personal appearance as well as that of their homes, businesses and communities. They work hard but adhere to rather rigid work schedules that allow time for family and friends at the end of the day. Rules and regulations are valued and help ensure that personal and business life runs smoothly.
Business Relations
With 81 million people, Germany is second only to Russia on Europe’s population chart. Its economy is the largest on the continent and the fifth largest in the world, so business is brisk. German businesses reflect the country’s high priority on timeliness, organization and structure. Meetings are usually very formal and begin and end on time. Business communications are direct and succinct, which might strike some as less than diplomatic, although no disrespect is intended. Business titles are valued and used regularly until relationships evolve to more sociable terms. Until then, proper etiquette is to say “Herr” or “Frau” and the person’s title and last name. German industry is driven largely by an engineering and technical mindset, which fits the country’s disciplined and orderly approach to most things. English is generally understood, but interpreters and translators are recommended to complete formal negotiations and contracts.
Social Etiquette
Greetings are rather formal, beginning with handshakes and introductions within groups. Gift giving is expected when invited to parties or social events. Flowers and bottles of wine are common gifts, although red flowers should be reserved for romantic relationships only and the wine should be an imported variety, like French or Italian. Not surprisingly, guests are expected to be punctual for meetings, dinners and parties. Arriving early is impolite, but excessive tardiness is also a sign of bad manners.
Germany is certainly a land of wonderful sights, engaging people and abundant business opportunities. To be fully prepared for any travels there, give us a call. We can share further insights and advice to make sure your visit is memorable and rewarding.