Cultural tips for doing business in Germany in 2022
You walk outside, and the smell of fresh Bratwurst dances through the air as you stroll alongside the iconic Berlin Wall, admiring the vibrant artwork. While approaching a Pilsner Garden, a small group of young men joyfully shout “Prost!”, moments before gulping down their giant Steins of beer.
Germany offers delicious warm bread, breathtaking scenery, and unlimited amounts of potatoes – to name a few highlights! But alongside the fun, Germans take getting down to business very seriously, with an extremely detailed thought process, so understanding German business culture is essential before pursuing commercial activities in the country.
German Business History
Germany is home to over 80 million people and is known for its long and rich history, one that has put it at the forefront of European thought, politics and art for over 1,000 years. This history has shaped a culture that combines predominantly Christian values with literature, art, philosophy, logic, reason and, of course, an unwavering love of beer and sausages!
Considered a country of thinkers, poets, and, nowadays, businesspeople, German culture and people are, to a large extent, all about reason and logic. Germany shares a lot of culture and tradition with neighbouring countries, especially the Germanic-speaking Austria and Switzerland.
According to, Worldometers, Germany has the world’s fourth-largest economy and is a powerhouse in European economy, featuring as the largest in the European Union. The country is a major hub for business in Europe and Germany is respected world-over for its automotive and engineering sectors. German culture standards and values are central to doing good business there. Whether you’re looking to move to the Federal Republic of Germany for work or you want to trade with a German business, understanding the local business ethos and other cultural standards is paramount to your success.
Business meetings in Germany
When it comes to business, Germans are the Masters of Business Planning. This is a culture that favours forward-thinking and knowing what they are doing at a specific time on a specific day. The German thought process is meticulous, with each aspect of a project being examined in great detail. Careful planning, in one’s business and personal life, provides a sense of security.
Germans like to get straight to the nitty-gritty. So don’t be surprised if you go into a business meeting where people say hello and then more or less immediately start the meeting agenda. There may be two or less sentences about Hilma’s new haircut or a brief chit-chat about the change of weather, but that time is super valuable and small talk can often be seen as a waste of time in German business culture.
Punctuality in German Business Culture
Being on time in Germany means that you’re late.
“Ordnung muss sein” or “there must be order” is a phrase that embodies the German business spirit. Punctuality and order are taken very seriously. It is a sign of respect to notify someone when running late for a meeting, and in Germany this standard is held quite high.
To make a good impression, especially if you’re coming to Germany for a business meeting, I would suggest setting your watch back fifteen minutes or setting yourself an alarm to ensure that you’ve left the house in due time, just to be certain you’ll be on time for your business meeting. Punctuality is a sign of reliability, and you may be judged harshly if you are late, even once.
In addition to this, deadlines are given high importance in the same manner as punctuality. So, if you’re new to working in Germany, make sure to ask questions if you’re unsure about deadlines. Missing one could be fatal when it comes to business relationships. And if you know you are struggling, make sure to always give advance notice.
Hierarchy in German Business Culture
The organisational culture in Germany is hierarchical – those who have reached the top should be respected as individuals who have worked hard. Most large businesses are governed by a CEO or a Board of Directors, under which is a strong team of managers. Regarding the decision-making process, this largely comes from the top, and employees in Germany are expected to do what is asked of them. Because the German business culture is generally fair on employees, it means that grudges, disputes, and rebellion are uncommon.
Germans have a direct way of speaking to one another and are not overly friendly or spirited in their communication. This style may leave foreigners confused sometimes, but consider this a normal, respectable way for them to communicate. No small talk: Germans like to get the job done rather than waste a lot of time talking about it, so communication that seems short is in fact, simply, efficient.
By reading this blog you are already on the right path to impressing new clients and business partners in Germany. Being able to recognise cultural differences is important for making the most out of your trip and helps you stand out from any competition.
Here at Dialogue, we provide cultural training sessions to help individuals understand different cultures in more depth. If you feel this is a service that would be useful to you then please feel free to look at our services in more detail today.