Etiquette and Customs in Germany
If you are planning a trip to Germany for business, study abroad, or vacation it is important to have some knowledge of the country’s culture, customs, and etiquette. The following is a brief guide to German etiquette and customs..
Greetings are formal in German culture. When greeting someone, a quick firm handshake is appropriate. Also, when addressing someone, you should refer to them by their title followed by their surname until they give you permission to call them by their first name.
While it may be tempting to take the initiative to introduce yourself to a group of people, you should allow your host or hostess to introduce you. In addition, when entering a room, you should shake hands with everyone individually, including children.
When invited to someone’s home, you should bring a gift for your host or hostess. Appropriate gifts include chocolate and flowers. For instance, yellow roses and tea roses are well received in German culture. However, there are several types of flowers you should avoid giving. For example, red roses symbolize romantic intentions, carnations symbolizes mourning, and lilies and chrysanthemums are used at funerals. If you choose to give your host or hostess wine, make sure that it is imported wine from France or Italy. Giving German wine denotes that you think that your host or hostess will not serve good wine. Gifts are opened upon receipt.
If you are invited to dinner, you should not arrive early, but on time. Also, if you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, you should call your host to notify them. In addition, always remember to send a thank you note, thanking your host or hostess for their hospitality.
Germans do not see a need for a personal relationship in order to do business. Also, Germans are primarily interested in your academic credentials and how long your company has been in business. When communicating, Germans are direct and straight to the point. You should expect written communication when doing business. Here are a few points to remember when doing business in Germany.
Appointments are mandatory and should be made 1-2 weeks in advance. If you write a letter to schedule an appointment, make sure that the letter is written in German. Initial meetings are used to get to know each other, and to see if you are trustworthy. Do not sit down until you are invited to do so. Men should wear dark colored conservative business suits and women should wear conservative business suits and dresses. Avoid wearing flamboyant jewelry and accessories.