Our Three Best Tips

for Communicating with
German Colleagues

Communicating with German Colleagues

Here are our three best tips for communicating effectively with German colleagues. From thoroughness to credibility to intensity, we’re confident that these tips will increase your chances of a successful business outcome!
 

Tip #1: Be Thorough.  

German style problem-solving requires gaining comprehensive insight and background into the issue at hand. As a result, it often begins with a look backwards to see how one has arrived at the present situation. So almost every German article, book, or presentation begins with a historical perspective. This initial thorough understanding helps reduce uncertainty. It provides a platform for decisions to be more “final” since they have been based on all information being shared upfront.   

Tip #2: Be Credible.

When doing business in Germany, it is far more important to be credible than to be likable. However, credibility takes time to build, whereas likability can happen relatively quickly. You can start building credibility in several ways. For example, keep business conversations content and fact based as opposed to sharing too much “personality”. Or, be direct with facts and criticism rather than praise and personal details. Finally, separate business and pleasure.

Tip #3: Be “intense”.

The German language makes frequent use of imperative statements and “intensifier” words. For example, words like “absolutely”, “without a doubt”, and “beyond question”. These may sound harsh to cultures whose languages are filled with questions and “softeners”. For example, expressions such as “kind of”, “somewhat”, or “maybe”. The German statement “It must be this way!” (Das muß so sein!) often sounds intense to cultures that would communicate the same message by saying “Maybe it would be better if we did it this way?” So, by all means (another intensifier!), in German business, be direct!

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