Time for minding some gaps.
It is always good to know the little things that are really important about a culture.
Here is my take – not claiming totality, not saying that everybody agrees to them. But maybe at least some people.
Thumbs up for:
- Shake hands when you meet – Germans perceive it as polite and politeness is important.
- When you bring a newbe into a group of people, introduce the person to others. You want to be perceived as a good host – if you show you are considerate, we almost automatically also like you.
- Feel free to discuss politics, religion, or any potentially critical topic at a dinner party or over lunch in the canteen. We love to have philosophic conversations and don´t really know how to do small-talk well. Straight forward is good for us.
- Complaining about things is ok – as long as you have either well researched proof for it, a good business case, or – even better: a proposal or an improvement plan on hand
- Tip – There is normally no service charge included and if you appreciate good service then show it via some coins (or notes) … btw – cash is what you need in Germany. Cards have not really made it into daily life in most places or at least you need to buy for a certain amount
- Be on time – as much as possible … almost for all occations. But: If you are invited to a party (not including formal dinner) at 8 pm – don´t show up before 8.45 pm …. you might otherwise be the first one
- Not addressing random people with the informal “Du”. Ok – if you are a non-German speaker we will forgive you. If you are fluent in German most people would find it strange when you address them with “Du” if you are above 25. …. Well, that might actually change at one point. The other day in Berlin – I was addressed with the formal “Sie” and I have to admit I was a bit offended and spent about 20 minutes thinking about how old these kids thought I was?!
- Not assuming that German music is the uumpa-music, everybody wears Dirndl and that Bavaria is the capital of Germany … Always good when you show that you know that Bavaria is only one province of Germany.
- Knowing a bit about history. e.g. that our queen is not a queen but a chancellor and is called Angela Merkel
- Throwing some German in. Germans are generally impressed by foreigners trying out some German. “Bitte ein Bier.” – Could I get a beer – and even better if you have a sexy accent … then we might even invite you. Because we can be emotional. Really!
- Last but not least: when people offer you something – let´s assume food (it is quite likely that you will be overloaded with food in a German home) … if you want to be really German then don´t say “yes, thanks” immediately. Say a friendly “Noooo, really, I think I am fine”. Then the German host will most likely say somthing like “No, really you should”. Here you have two options. Either you jump on the offer and say “well then, yes” – or you play the game another round until you finally say “ok then, if you insist. Well then I have some more”.
- One last thing – before I am out for today: Watch the little video on superstition in Germany:
Any major knowledge to share on this one?