German business etiquette

what you should know about the German business culture

German business etiquette

Germans are known as the masters of planning. Their serious outlook on business makes them a proud, strong, individualistic nation and their business etiquette must be followed and respected.

German business is followed by a set of structured laws and rules, allowing the separation of the business and leisure time to be taken accordingly. Furthermore, business is taken very seriously, so humour in such a context is not usually welcome or tolerated.

Planning is essential as it provides a sense of security. You should expect your projects to be examined in great detail. As a side note, it is a good idea to ensure that your printed material is available in both English and German.
Letters should be addressed to the person holding the managerial position in that sector, including the person's name as well as their proper business title.

Making appointments

Business appointments in Germany are mandatory and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance. You should avoid arriving late to an appointment as it is seen as incredibly bad-mannered. To give a good impression, try to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting.

Before entering the room, remember to knock and wait for an invitation to enter. When entering a room, shake hands with everyone individually. Be aware that the eldest person always enters the room first. Men also enter before women if their age is equivalent. Minutes of the meeting are often used to back up decisions and maintain a record of any discussions.

Throughout the meeting, it is a good idea to maintain eye contact with the person speaking, as this demonstrates that you are listening. You can expect the same behaviour directed at you when it is your turn to speak.

Further reading

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