By Paola Pascual & Simon Kennell on Sep 14, 2021 8:30:38 AM
Working with people across different cultures is an enriching experience, both from a personal and a professional perspective. But not understanding other cultures' business etiquette and communication patterns can end up damaging your relationship with others. Play our new Talaera Talks episode, tag along, and read the tips below on how to communicate with people from Germany. You will also find the transcript at the end of this post.
How To Communicate Better With...
In this new series, we will cover how to communicate better with different nationalities. Bear in mind that we will share general communicative differences, not principles. We believe that understanding how different cultures communicate will help you advance in your career and make your business thrive. However, remember that each individual has a different communication style, so please take these tips with a grain of salt and take the time to get to know each person. In this series, we've also covered communication and culture in the United States, India, and Israel.
In this Talaera Talks episode, we will cover how to better communicate with people from Germany, and we have a very special guest - Kristina. She's our Senior Account Manager and has been one of our main pillars at Talaera since the very beginning. She's from Germany but has been living in Massachusetts, USA, for the last 4 years. This has allowed her to identify the differences and similarities of both cultures and also understand her own culture better.
Interesting facts about Germany
- Population: 81 million people (Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union!)
- Capital: Berlin
- Currency: Euro - as of 2002.
- Geography and politics: Germany is a federal state consisting of 16 states. One-third of Germany is still covered in forests and woodlands.
- Roads: 65% of the highways in Germany (Autobahn) have no speed limit.
- Castles: There are over 2100 castles in Germany.
- Beers: There are over 1,500 different beers in Germany.
- Books: The first printed book was in German.
- Houses: The world’s narrowest street is in Reutlingen. It is called Spreuerhofstrasse and is 31 cm (one foot) wide at its narrowest point.
Non-verbal communication in Germany
- Eye contact. Eye contact is expected and respected in Germany. Uninterrupted eye contact can be awkward for those not used to such etiquette and misinterpreted as staring. However, it shows attention and interest in a conversation. It is polite to make eye contact with superiors at work as well.
- Personal distance. Germans tend to give each other generous personal space in professional contexts. However, if you go to the grocery store, you will notice that most people keep no personal distance.
- Knocking on the table. Germans show their appreciation of a presentation or at the end of a business meeting by knocking on the table with their knuckles. This signals approval of an agreement and the conclusion of the meeting.
- Pointing. Some Germans use their little finger to point, whereas in most other Western cultures we point with our index fingers.
- Silence. Germans are usually comfortable with it. They generally talk when they have something to say. But if they don't have anything interesting to say, then they won't worry too much about filling every silence.
Verbal communication in Germany
- Direct communication style. "They are definitely, definitely, more direct than other cultures," says Kristina.
- Formality. The German language brings formality to the situation, as there is a different way of addressing a stranger ("Sie") different from how we address friends and family ("du"). By a formal personal pronoun to address a stranger or a superior at work, you create more distance and formality. At work, you will always start with the formal form and if your boss tells you "You can call me by my first name", then you can be on a first-name basis. But wait until they offer it.
- Small talk. Small talk is less common than in other cultures. While they might engage in some small talk in professional situations, it is not considered rude to jump straight to the point of a meeting or a conversation. Kristina recalls: "I remember, in my first year, my boss back then told me to never ever ask how customers are, or you will never hear the end of it. Which is very true. If you ask someone how they are, they will tell you how they are. And this can take a while."
- Honesty. Germans are renowned for being very honest people, sometimes to the point of being bluntly critical of others’ actions. They usually reserve warmth and friendliness for close friends and family. This gives their relationship greater integrity and value. Feedback is usually provided in a more straightforward way and it is seen as an opportunity for improvement and growth.
Tips to effectively communicate with Germans
Working with people from other cultures requires high cultural intelligence (CQ), together with a general understanding of the specific cultures you are dealing with. We present effective tips that will help you collaborate more effectively with colleagues and clients from Germany.
#1 Be prepared
Do your homework before a meeting or a presentation. Germans appreciate ideas that have been thought through. And when you have a meeting and a discussion, they really value that. Avoid the "I'll throw it up there off the top of my head."
#2 Understand their decision-making process
Usually, decision-making is a little bit slower and more detailed than in other countries. Once you understand that proceeding slowly doesn't mean that things are going wrong, you will be able to negotiate and do business with your German peeps in a more effective way.
#3 Don't exaggerate
And don't use exaggerated or indirect communication for business. Be direct and use rational language. Avoid sending subliminal messages where they need to read between the lines.
#4 Be on time
Punctuality is important in German business culture. Show respect for other people's time by arriving on time or joining a virtual meeting at the scheduled time.
#5 Ask for clarification
If you don't understand something –a situation or what they said–, just ask. Nobody will hold it against you and they will appreciate it. In some cultures, people might not feel empowered to speak up and admit they did not understand something, but this won't happen in the German culture.
#6 Appreciate feedback... And act on it
Germans aren't scared to provide feedback, especially if you asked for it. Don't get offended if they express it in a way that's more direct than what you're used to. Instead, appreciate their feedback and understand that they are trying to help you improve.
If you still need help to communicate effectively with other cultures, get in touch with Talaera. This article works as supporting material for our podcast episode on how to communicate better with US Americans. You can read the transcript below. Make sure you check out all our other Talaera Talks episodes and subscribe to get new episode alerts.
Keep Improving your Crosss-Cultural Communication Skills
Effective communication goes beyond knowing how to speak a language. Culture plays a huge role, and we want to help you bring your international teams together through effective cross-cultural communication. Make the most of our free resources and get in touch to learn more about our communications training.
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If you enjoyed this article, keep reading:
- 7 Tips On How To Communicate Better With US Americans
- What Americans Really Mean When They Say Things Like “How Are You?”
- Working With Israelis? Use These 6 Excellent Communication Tips
- The 6 Communication Tips Everyone Working With Germans Should Know
- A Quick Guide To Asking Better Questions In Cross Cultural Workplaces
- 8 Tips On Direct Communication For Those Who Were Called "Too Direct"
- 13 Ways to Break Down Silos in the Workplace And Boost Collaboration
- 9 Tell-Tale Signs Your Employees Are Struggling With Cross-Cultural Communication
- How To Overcome The Top 4 Communication Barriers In The Workplace
- How To Say No: The Truth About Assertive Communication
- Managing Across Cultures: Playbook for Managers
Talaera Talks - Transcript Episode 23
If you are learning English, including new English words and expressions will help you with effective communication. Remember to check out our other episodes on how to make small talk, how to deliver engaging presentations, how to speak English fluently, and many more: visit the podcast website. Listen to it on your favorite platform:
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we're going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!
Simon Kennell 0:24
Okay, welcome to another episode of Talaera Talks. Today we are starting with, yeah, another episode in our culture series, focusing today on Germany. Or, in Danish, it's called Tyskland. I don't know, what's it called in German?
Kristina Laliberte 0:46
Simon Kennell 0:47
Deutschland? Yeah. What about in Spanish?
Paola Pascual 0:50
It is Alemania.
Simon Kennell 0:52
Oh, okay. One more time?
Paola Pascual 0:55
So different. Alemania.
Simon Kennell 0:56
Alemania! Uh, I think that's my favorite. Well, we are excited for another culture episode. And today we have with us a German citizen. But not just any German citizen. She is a Talaera German citizen, our senior account manager, Kristina. So Christina, welcome to the podcast. And if you don't mind, just kind of introducing yourself a little bit?
Kristina Laliberte 1:28
Well, first of all, thanks for having me. I'm very excited to be on the podcast with you guys. My name is Kristina. As you said, I'm the senior account manager here at Talaera. I've been with Talaera pretty much from the beginning. Almost, I want to say. And, you know, I've seen this little company grow and all the cool things that we you to guys do. But the podcast I'm especially excited to be on this episode. (Paola: I'm so excited!). I made an effort and went especially to Germany for this episode so it's more authentic.
Paola Pascual 2:08
That's great. Because you live in Boston, right? Or nearby.
Simon Kennell 2:11
In Massachusetts, yeah, in central Massachusetts. Okay, so then now you're back in the Motherland, just just flown back in and so far are you feeling back at home?
Kristina Laliberte 2:26
Yes, it really... For me it still only takes setting foot on the Frankfurt Airport ground out of the plane and I instantly feel at home.
Simon Kennell 2:37
Oh, wow. And I'm sure you're you know, and what we'll talk about today is all of the, you know, interactions that you –I'm sure– feel right away, where you're like, 'Okay, yeah, back in Germany!' I know that's the way I definitely feel like when I fly to the US and then back to Denmark, for example. That's the same. But to start, you know, as usual, we'll start with some fun facts. Facts are fun, and especially about Germany. They're even more fun. Apparently and now this, you know, I looked this up. This is like the Wikipedia-ish truth so I would be interested to know if you can verify these. But population is around 81 million. A third of Germany is still covered in forests and woodlands, apparently. (Paola: Oh, I love that!). Yeah, that's that's pretty nice. Apparently there are over 2100 castles in Germany.
Kristina Laliberte 3:35
I can totally see that. Yeah. I think around around the area I'm in, it's got to be probably 20 just here.
Simon Kennell 3:46
Oh, wow! And is it true that some people like now are converting them into homes and things like that? Or is that always been kind of the way?
Kristina Laliberte 3:55
That I don't know. I think a lot of those castles are actually ruins. I'm not sure how many of those castles are fully functional. And I want to say most of them are probably owned by the community or whatever, you know, region they're in. I'm not sure if private people can can buy those.
Paola Pascual 4:20
It'd be pretty cool to live in a castle.
Simon Kennell 4:25
So the first printed book was in German. So that's that's interesting as well.
Kristina Laliberte 4:32
Because Mr. Gutenberg, he was the one inventing the book press.
Simon Kennell 4:38
I love the way you said (that). But you know we say, in the US, we say Gutenberg, but I love the way you pronounce that. That was nice. And now here you're just yeah, I'm gonna slaughter this but the world's narrowest street is in Reutlingen and it's called the... Oh, this is... okay! Spreuerhofstrasse? How is that?
Simon Kennell 5:02
So it's Reutlingen. You pronounce that quite well. And the street is called Spreuerhofstrasse.
Simon Kennell 5:08
Okay. Spreuerhofstrasse. Okay. And it's one foot wide –31 centimeters– at its narrowest point. That's, that's very interesting. (Paola: It's very narrow!).
Kristina Laliberte 5:22
Never been to Reutlingen. It’s here in Baden-Württemberg. It’s in Schwabenländle, as we say, but I’ve never been to Reutling.
Paola Pascual 5:32
Is that the very south of Germany?
Kristina Laliberte 5:34
Um, no, the very south would be more like Lake Constance, that area, that would be more south. Reutlingen is on the Schwäbisch Alb. Now, my geography knowledge might not be the best, but it's closer to Bavaria.
Paola Pascual 5:55
Okay, that's good. And another fact. So I lived in Germany, actually, for about three years. In Berlin. And I noticed that there were a lot of beers, like different kinds of bears, which I personally love. And we wrote down 1500 different beers. I guess that could be right.
Kristina Laliberte 6:17
That wouldn't surprise me.... If it was more than that.
Paola Pascual 6:23
That's good. So today, we also have –apart from the the fun facts and all– we would like to touch on how Germans usually communicate. So the nonverbal communication aspect and the verbal communication, plus some some small tips for non German speakers when communicating with people from Germany. So that's a bit how it's going to go.
Simon Kennell 6:49
Right, and yeah, and so I can I can start with the nonverbal communication, which I thought this was interesting, both in the US episode we did and the Israel episode we did, I'd be interesting to see how these like, you know, contrast with that. But starting with nonverbal communication. And and I guess, just we'll bring in body language as well into this, when we're talking about communicating with Germans. So I think the first one that we found –and you're going to verify that all of this is... or tell us if it's if it's all wrong, but yeah: eye contact and how that's expected and respected. And, I mean, can you tell us a little bit about that, like, that plays a pretty prominent role when you're when you're meeting with someone?
Kristina Laliberte 7:36
Absolutely, yes, you want to keep the eye contact, especially in a business setting. If you are talking to someone and adressing someone directly, you want to look at them. Definitely keeping eye contact has also something to do with following the conversation and making the other person feel like you're active, participating actively in that conversation. So you want to definitely keep eye contact.
Paola Pascual 8:06
Also, with your superiors, right?
Kristina Laliberte 8:09
With everybody really. It's got to do with the eye contact, but maybe a little off of the off the conversation, I've heard from other people, that Germans like to stare, apparently, or a lot of people that are not Germans think that it's staring, but they're just genuinely interested in you as a person. That's why they keep looking at you. So if you if you are in Germany, and you feel like people are too, you know, they stare at you or they too straightforward with the eye contact, don't be intimidated. Okay. (Paola: It's nothing personal).
Simon Kennell 8:50
That's good to know. And then with personal distance... Like this is one thing as well, that we've talked about is, at least in the US, we talked about that. Yeah, Americans tend to enjoy their personal distance a little bit. Is that the same in Germany?
Kristina Laliberte 9:12
It depends on the situation, I think. So in a business setting, you probably want to keep a little bit of distance, you know, give everybody their personal space. Whereas when you for you know, for example, Paola, we just talked about it, right? If you go to the grocery store, that's a whole different story. It is literally no personal distance, there's no personal space, especially if there's a sale going on. You know, it can it can get rough sometimes.
Simon Kennell 9:42
So what why why is that that in the supermarket, of all places, that's where it gets... Yeah, that's where it gets pretty close.
Kristina Laliberte 9:52
That is a very good question. And I can only speculate as to why that might be. Um... So first of all, nobody has ever time to stand in line and grocery stores. And so part of being efficient is you want to be close to the next person. And as soon as they start putting stuff on the belt, right, you want to put your stuff on the belt so that there's no gap. So you need to be very close to the person in front of you. So you can put that stuff on the belt right away and keep the keep the thing going.
Simon Kennell 10:28
Oh, that makes sense. So it comes down to that German efficiency, then.
Kristina Laliberte 10:33
Probably, I'll just blame it on the German efficiency. It's also... I don't know if you've ever been to one of the grocery stores especially like Aldi, or Lidl. They're so fast and checking you out at the cash register. You barely have time to put the stuff back into your cart. (Paola: It's impressive, how fast they are.)
Simon Kennell 10:55
Okay, so so moving on from the personal distance, this is one that I really think is pretty unique, because I haven't seen this anywhere else. But if you've done well in a presentation, and then I go on the desk, and everybody just starts... You know, knocking their their knuckles on on the desk -is that truly common? Is that really the way it...? (Kristina: Yeah!) Oh, wow.
Paola Pascual 11:22
Is that like a professional way of clapping?
Kristina Laliberte 11:27
I wouldn't call it professional. It's just a different way of clapping.(Simon: I love that). Yeah, but it's a thing. Yeah, we used to do that in school. And I've seen it in a business setting as well.
Simon Kennell 11:42
I think that's cool. I think I think it's like very, a little bit intimidating, a little bit intense. You know what I mean? If I was an outsider, and I just saw that, and everybody was just kind of knocking on the desk.
Paola Pascual 11:52
Isn't that what you do when you play pool? If it was a really good shot then people would do, like, kind of knock on the table? I've seen that done.
Simon Kennell 12:01
Yeah. Okay, this last one that I want to touch on, and then we'll get into the verbal communication, but silence and the role of silence. We talked about that in the US not so comfortable as well, in Israel, not so comfortable with silence. And in Germany, silence is a little bit more kind of normalized a little bit more as part of the common conversation.
Kristina Laliberte 12:25
I would say so yeah.
Paola Pascual 12:27
It feels sometimes to me, yeah, that Germans would talk when they have something to say. But if they don't have something to say, then they won't worry too much about filling every silence. (Kristina: Yeah, yeah.)
Simon Kennell 12:44
All right. Well, that's good to know. All right. Well, let's get to the verbal communication. Paola, what do you have for us?
Paola Pascual 12:51
Um, so something I noticed, when I lived in Germany, is how direct people are. And at the beginning, this was a bit of a culture shock, because if you're more used to dealing with US Americans, then you see how everything's... They are outspoken, but the communication is a little bit less direct. But yeah, I think Germans are polite, but they do tend to have this formal as a matter of fact, kind of conversation style, would you both agree?
Kristina Laliberte 13:23
They are definitely, definitely, more direct than other cultures, I would agree and attest to that. As far as formal goes, I think the German language itself brings that formality. So there's a different way of addressing a stranger than, than addressing a friend, just by using the pronoun "du" or "Sie". Whereas you know, in English, you only have "you" and you, say you to whoever comes across your way. And in Germany, it's a little bit different. So you create a little more distance and formality by using "Sie" with a stranger or someone that's, you know, superior to you at work, your boss or manager, whoever that might be.
Paola Pascual 14:09
Is that still very common? Because for example, in Spanish, you also have the "du" and the "Sie", like, the equivalent, but it's only used nowadays in very formal situations. But if I went to uni in Spain, I wouldn't necessarily use "Sie" for my professor.
Kristina Laliberte 14:29
You always use "Sie" here. You always start with "Sie" in a school setting, especially. I don't think I've ever come across a professor an actual professor that was okay with saying "du" or, you know, addressing them informally. At work, you will always start with the formal and then maybe your boss will say, "You can call me by my first name", and then you're on a first name basis, but they have to offer like you don't just walk in and kind of say, "Hey, you know, Paul, how are you?" to your boss. Now you always start formal, and if they offer to, you know, be informal with each other, then it's different story. But yeah, it's still a thing. Definitely. (Paola: Also with colleagues?) Yes. Especially with colleagues that are older in age.
Paola Pascual 15:23
That's interesting. That's a bit different from other other cultures. How about small talk? I feel it's a little bit less of a thing in Germany. People do engage in small talk, but I feel they tend to get straight to the point a bit quicker.
Simon Kennell 15:40
Yes, I would say so. To so small talk, it depends on how good you know a person, I think. So you would, you know, if you're, let's say, so I was I used to work in a bank right? As a teller. So I would be in front desk and you know, people would come in, if I know the customer, you would have some small talk, you would talk about the weather. And maybe what they've heard the weekend was just like very simple stuff. I remember, in my first year, my boss back then told me never ever asked how they are, you will never hear the end of it. Which is very true. If you ask someone how they are, they will tell you how they are. And this can take a while. (Simon: This can take a while?) Yeah, so if they're having a bad week, you're gonna be there for a little while. Yes. (Paola: And you're honest!) Yeah. Yes, you are honest. I mean, if you're going, you know, if you're going that far to actually tell people how you feeling you're going to be honest about it, I would say. But yeah, if it's like random, small talk with strangers on the street, like you would I've experienced in the States, for example. Yeah, that thought doesn't happen too often. In Germany. That's not a thing.
Paola Pascual 17:00
Interesting. Simon, anything, anything you wanted to add?
Simon Kennell 17:05
Yeah. So one thing that I was I was thinking about, like, what the role between honesty, and politeness. And that kind of... That dynamic. Because we've talked about this, I think it's funny, and, you know, when we did the Israel episode, it was very much that like honesty is politeness and it's the way of showing that we care. And whereas in the US, of course, it depends on the area, but like, where I'm from in the South, it's more so like, you can be honest up into a point, but then, watch out, because, you know, we kind of sugarcoat things, right? But I mean, would you say that it's one or the other in kind of communicating with Germans that it's just comes down to honesty is the higher value thing than politeness?
Kristina Laliberte 18:02
You can be honest in a polite way. I don't think either thing. One, the one excludes the other. I think there's a way of going about being honest, that's okay, and doesn't necessarily offend or hurt people. And I think Germans do that. You know, nobody ever, especially in the professional setting, you will never hear someone telling you that what you did was not good, or you're stupid or something like that. Nobody would ever say that. Typically, it's constructive criticism, right? So they say what you did is maybe not so good. because of these reasons. And for my, you know, my personal opinion is this is how you could have done it better. Okay.
Paola Pascual 18:46
So that's something I've also noticed, because when, so you said, "Oh, what you did was perhaps not as good as it could have been". And I would say for some cultures already that is already direct. For example, in in the US we'd say "That's interesting, but how about this other way of doing it?" So you would never say ""hat you've done might not be correct." So it is I do think what if you're not used to communicating with people from German, it can come across as a little bit too rough for some cultures, but then when you get to know them, it's so sweet. It's like, I would like us to find a good solution for for this thing. So it comes from a very good place. But yeah...
Simon Kennell 19:29
The emphasis is more on like, you know, the let's help you get to the way that you're doing this better, right. So let's help on let's work on improvement, and not so much that you did this wrong. Right. Right. And I think that's interesting. But what so say, I'm going to work in a German company and I'm in a meeting. Would it be okay for someone like would it be normal for someone in the meeting if they were a group of 10 to outwardly tell me I didn't do something correct and and be, you know, in that way in front of everybody else? Or would it be kind of culturally not so normal and it would be more something to do in private.
Kristina Laliberte 20:14
That also depends on the setting. I think if you're presenting something, and you give it up for discussion to everybody, you might hear someone telling you, you know, this, this is maybe not the best work of yours or something like that. If you're just presenting, and it's not up for discussion, nobody will interrupt and like tell you this is, you know that that was a terrible presentation. Typically, they don't do that, unless you're in school, and it's your teacher, and that's what you need to do.
Paola Pascual 20:46
But talking about honesty, I think it happens also the other way around, not only with negative things, but when something is positive. If I hear a German person telling me that's good, I do believe that's good. Like, they wouldn't say, Oh, yeah, that's good. Just to look nice.
Kristina Laliberte 21:01
Yeah, definitely. No, no, typically not if they don't mean it.
Simon Kennell 21:07
How about humor? I thought this was interesting. And a little bit in my research. And also, you know, that we've worked together now for a couple of years. And I don't know, I haven't worked with so many Germans in my in my life. But I mean, what about the role of humor in the in the business setting? Do you do you think typically, that's something like a good way to kind of bond with someone you're working with this to be humorous in a business setting, or you think that's kind of they're a little bit segregated?
Kristina Laliberte 21:35
Despite of what you hear about Germans and what you can see on the internet, we do have humor, and we're actually quite funny. And humor is a thing in the workplace. I, every time I work with people in Germany, there was always fun involved and humor involved. And yeah.
Paola Pascual 21:57
I totally agree with you that Germans are funny, and that they appreciate humor. But I do think the humor is very different from other countries, and the translation might not, it might not translate well. So like irony, I think everything is a little bit more literal. And so when when it's translated back into English, then it might not be funny. And the other way around, I don't know if...
Kristina Laliberte 22:25
Yes, yes, it's also it's also a little drier, I want to say, and maybe a tad sarcastic.
Simon Kennell 22:34
A tad sarcastic? Okay.
Paola Pascual 22:38
Very sarcastic. One thing I noticed as well. So I love stand up comedy. And when I lived in Berlin, you have lots of opportunities to go to stand up comedy events. And even if Germans find it funny, they might not laugh out loud. And I don't know if that happens everywhere. But it was quite tricky for the comedians that were from abroad to understand that it's like, oh, it was hilarious. But then no one really laughed out loud. (Kristina: Interesting). It was just funny.
Simon Kennell 23:11
Good. Do we have anything else in terms of verbal communication? I think this last part was just around privacy. And I think we kind of touched on that a little bit as well like, and how you're working in the workplace and the role of privacy? Like what are some things that are appropriate to ask versus maybe not so appropriate, of course, you develop a relationship, right with your colleagues, and then you know, maybe further down the line, it becomes more appropriate. But initially, if you're just starting to work with a group of Germans or in a German company, what do you feel like is kind of the line? Do you feel like you should hold back a lot?
Kristina Laliberte 23:54
That's a tricky question. So if you're the HR person interviewing someone, yes, there's a lot to hold back or a way to, you know, formulating questions. If you meet a colleague for the first time, I think you can be someone personal, like you would typically ask, you know, where do you come from, you know, what kind of school that you go to, especially if you're from the same area, you might know some people that went to the same school, you know, you might want to ask them, if where they work before they came to that company. Even and then maybe not on the first day, but down the line, you would probably ask some more about their personal status, like do you have kids or you know what, that kind of stuff.
Simon Kennell 24:46
Huh. Okay. And I think that's fascinating. It's like that. I think it might be intimidating for some, you know, non German starting to work in a German company, for example, where they're not sure exactly where that line is, and it's probably safer to kind of wait to see what other people are doing right? And then follow that. (Paola: Mirroring is always a good tip. I agree.) We're getting close to time. But I wanted to touch on one last point, because I think this is really interesting. And also, the fact that, Kristina, we're all working in this in this startup. And it's really dynamic, and we're changing a lot and moving really fast. And we always have to be very flexible, right. But I mean, from what I've read, and what I understand, typical German business culture is much more focused on kind of general structure and alignment where it takes a little while to make a decision. But when everybody makes that decision, everybody goes in that direction, right? versus, let's say, American business culture, which is much more about kind of flexibility. And, and yeah, we'll make a decision, but let's touch on it again, in a couple of weeks kind of thing. So it can be these cultures can be a little bit different, right? In terms of the business practice, what's your experience been like, working in this startup, where it is, you know, a lot about flexibility and being dynamic. Do you feel like those, you know, your inner German self kind of struggling with that at any point?
Kristina Laliberte 26:19
For me, personally, no, not that much. But I, I see what you mean. And I, I know that German companies are not known for changing quickly or adjusting to changes quickly. And I agree to that. I think for some of them, depending on what kind of company it is, it might take a while to make a decision. But then as you said, once they made that decision, they typically stick to it. And it they don't revisit decision making processes, like once a year. Okay. So once they make that decision, they're going to stick to it for a while. And then unless something goes wrong, they might not revisit the decision making process process again. That makes sense. Yeah. Okay. That is a bit different from other cultures. Yeah, that being said, I mean, everything I just said is obviously kind of played into a little bit of stereotypes. And you have to take everything with a grain of salt. I think as Germany also develops a bit more of a startup culture, especially around Berlin, and everything, things change around, you know, with new generations coming in, I think the cultural awareness is different than it used to be, I think, might also have something to do with social media and people just being more connected all over than they used to be. So I think going forward, you will notice a shift in the cultural behaviors, even in Germany, it might take another decade or so. We don't know. But yeah, so take everything with a grain of salt. And, you know, it also depends on where you where you are in Germany.
Paola Pascual 28:04
It's such a good point. And thank you so much for bringing it up. We've mentioned this in the other two episodes. But it's true that we hadn't pointed it out yet here. Like everything we're saying it's from our experience, from research from what we've seen, and it's more in general terms. But, of course, each person is totally different.
Simon Kennell 28:22
And we talk about the scale. I think it's interesting, when you talk about cultures, it's always good to think about it, in terms of in relation to what? Right, so this being, you know, more structured and everything like that in relation to what? You know. And I think that's Yeah, that's always something to keep in mind. I was I had a Spanish student this morning, and he says, Oh, we're very, very direct here in Spain. You know, it's like, we're almost rude. We're so direct, we just tell it how it is. And I'm like, so would you say you're as direct as like Germans? Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, you know what I mean? So it's like, it's all about in relation to what? So let's finish off with some tips, some real takeaways. Paola, maybe you can start us off on on what are these tips that non Germans communicating with German should should think about?
Paola Pascual 29:13
So one thing, especially in business, I would say be prepared. I think Germans appreciate ideas that have been thought through. And when you have a meeting and a discussion, they really value that. So it's not just I'll throw it up there off the top of my head. So that's one thing. Usually decision making, we've said that before, is a little bit slower, and more detailed, but in other in other countries. So that doesn't mean things are going wrong. It's just the way the way it is. And don't use exaggerated or indirect communication for business. So be direct. Say what you want to say. And don't exaggerate. Kristina's nodding.
Kristina Laliberte 29:57
yes, yes. I had to learn that myself. Yeah, just, you know, say it how it is, really, if you need to say something, just say it, and they will deal with that better than trying to read between the lines.
Unknown Speaker 30:13
Does it ever annoy you how much I say awesome and absolutely?
Kristina Laliberte 30:18
No, I don't hear it anymore. To be honest. I think I, I've lived in the States for four years now. And I think, you know, working and hearing it on a day to day basis, I've got very accustomed to it. And I think I'm almost a little bit Americanized, in my ways of how I communicate. And I noticed that when I come back to Germany, actually. But it took me a while I was very confused in the beginning. I did underestimate that specific part of cultural difference, and I did not understand it at all like, yeah, it didn't make sense to me.
Paola Pascual 30:57
It's odd when you hear Oh, this is the most "mmm" the world, when you're in the States. And then you go somewhere else, and you're like, was this not good (enough)? Just because they said, "Oh, that's that's good". Right? So yeah, we talked, we talked about Germans being honest. So if you're communicating with with one that is being honest, don't take personal offense if they tell you that you made a mistake in a business situation, as long as it's polite. What else? Do youo guys have anything to add?
Simon Kennell 31:27
Be on time?
Paola Pascual 31:29
Oh, yes, yes. That that as well.
Kristina Laliberte 31:33
Yeah. And don't be offended. Generally. Just don't.
Simon Kennell 31:40
Alright, I'm gonna I'm gonna try that one.
Kristina Laliberte 31:43
If you're, if you're if you don't understand, you know, if you don't understand the situation, or what they said, or you don't understand the context of what has been said, just ask. Yeah, and nobody will ever hold that against you. If you they'd rather have you clarify something, than, you know, sit there and be mad at them or upset or something like that. Because that's not their intention.
Simon Kennell 32:10
Yeah. Yeah. That's good to know. That's, I think that's Yeah, that's a solid. That's a solid one to end. And, yeah, I think that's a good one to take away. I like that. I like that.
Paola Pascual 32:21
Yeah, this was so nice. It was so nice to have you, Kristina. Is there anything else you wanted to add before we wrap it up?
Kristina Laliberte 32:30
Everybody should come to Germany. And if it's just for the pretzels and the baked goods. I was eh... yeah, come come to Germany experience for yourself.
Paola Pascual 32:43
We'll do we'll do. Well, it was so nice to have you.
Kristina Laliberte 32:46
Thanks so much for having me.
Paola Pascual 32:49
It was it was fun. It was a lot of fun. And thank you as well, Simon. Yeah. It's always great. Great! So that's that's it for today. I would love to hear if you have any suggestions about our next culture. If you would like to hear about any in particular. I've heard India is a very popular one. So we might do that. We'll see. We'll see. Join one of our webinars. You know we have one every month and I really hope to talk to you soon. All right, bye for today.
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