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Professional etiquette in Germany

Different country, different customs. In Germany, too, there may be etiquette in everyday working life that may surprise you as a newcomer to Germany. So here are a few tips to help you avoid blunders and surprises.

1. punctuality: The cliché is true - punctuality is taken very seriously in Germany. Being late for meetings or appointments is considered rude and unprofessional. It is customary to arrive five to ten minutes before the agreed time. Being punctual means respecting the other person and not taking yourself more seriously than the person you are talking to.

2. Formal form of address: In professional life, the formal form of address ‘Sie’ is often used, especially if you do not know someone well. Titles and surnames are also important and it is considered disrespectful to ignore them. Only when you are offered to switch to ‘Du’ should you use the more informal form of address.

3. Hierarchies and decision-making: German companies often have a clear hierarchy. Decisions are often made from the top down and it is important to respect this hierarchy. At the same time, people are expected to work independently and proactively.

4. Direct communication: Germans are known for communicating very directly and clearly. Criticism is expressed openly and often without even asking for it. People are expected to respond objectively and constructively. This directness can be surprising for people from cultures where indirect communication is favoured.

5. Separation of professional and private life: There is often a clear separation between professional and private life. During working hours, people concentrate on their tasks and private matters are usually dealt with outside of working hours. It is unusual to discuss personal issues or small talk on a large scale in a professional environment.

Of course, it always depends on the management what is actually implemented. But overall, if you apply these 5 points of professional etiquette in German companies, you won't offend anyone and will get through the day well.

Do you need a customised German course to land your dream job in Germany? Get in touch with us and we will help you further

Drei Menschen sitzen um einen Arbeitstisch in einer Besprechung.
Besprechung am Arbeitstisch.


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