Mastering German business etiquette

Successful entry into the German market and the chances of developing lasting business relations depend on more than just having a great product and overcoming language barriers. An understanding of German values and expectations, cultural nuances and even subtleties such as acceptable body language and business attire are crucial when attempting to launch a foreign product or service in the country.
Having a respectful attitude to such values as efficiency, punctuality, formality and ethics increase the chances of successful negotiations when setting out to do business in Germany. Business etiquette is of great importance to German businesspeople and the highest of standards are expected.


The German culture values forward thinking and the knowledge of what they will be doing at any given point in the future. Careful planning is prized above all else as it gives a sense of security in both business and personal life. This thorough thought process means that every aspect of your business proposition will be examined in great detail – hence the need to research and plan carefully before attempting to crack the market.


Business is viewed very seriously in Germany, so being overly jovial and informal in an attempt to build rapport early on can backfire. As a general rule, Germans do not appreciate humour in the field of business. Equally, sloppy presentation in all areas from your general appearance to conducting a credible pitch for your business will create a bad impression, as appearance is very important to Germans, particularly with regard to business.


Once the foundations have been laid are you are presented with an opportunity to meet a potential German business partner, do not be late for your appointment as even a few minutes delay can offend. In addition, it is important to send the most senior manager available when entering the market, to convey the seriousness of your intentions on the market. This senior representative must also have the authority to take decisions on the spot.


Returning to the point of language barriers, whilst English is widely spoken and accepted as the business language, it is both polite and preferable to send an introductory letter in German and supply company brochures either in German or with a German translation on an insert.


If you need support with any aspect of embarking on successful negotiations in Germany, our experience means that we can help you to avoid making critical mistakes that could undermine your chances of success when doing business in Germany.

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