I recently had the opportunity to travel to Germany and expand my professional network by engaging with individuals in the business community.
Below are some of the business etiquette differences I noticed between the US and Germany:
1) Communication Style
In Germany, communication is direct and straightforward, and it is considered rude to beat around the bush. On the other hand, in the US, people are more likely to be indirect and avoid confrontation.
Punctuality is a sign of respect and professionalism in Germany. Meetings and appointments start exactly on time, and it is considered rude to be late. On the other hand, in the US, being a few minutes late is acceptable.
Business relationships in Germany tend to be more formal and professional, with titles and last names being used in formal settings. For example, “Herr (Mr.) Robin” or “Frau (Ms.) Mayer”. On the other hand, in the US, first names are more commonly used, and relationships tend to be less formal.
The meetings in Germany tend to be more structured and agenda-driven. Senior position holders like managers tend to lead discussions and decision-making processes in a direct and bureaucratic manner. On the other hand, in the US, meetings tend to be more collaborative, relaxed and open-ended.
5) Dress Code
Like most countries, the dress code in Germany is more formal, with suits and ties being the norm. On the other hand, in the US, dress codes are more relaxed, and business casual is often acceptable.