In theory the world is a large place with over 7 billion people living on the planet. However when it comes to globalization (the extending of social relations) the capacity of the world seems rather small. As we have mentioned before in some of our previous blogs (The Trouble With A Lack Of Communication)  the development of technology has pushed the boundaries of globalization rather vastly over the years, particularly of recent.
With this development of technology and the increase of globalization, many businesses have used it to the best of their advantage and consequently seriously help international business. However, it is also imperative to remember that with the benefits of globalisation in the business environment it also has possible downfalls and difficulties, particularly if people are unaware of cross cultural differences. Therefore, having knowledge of cultural differences and corporate cultural differences is important to understand before going into business.
Conducting business within two different cultures can sometimes lead to some degree of offense, unintended of course. Therefore by willingly learning the ways that other cultures work within business could subtly help you. For example Germany as a country not only has particular cultural acceptances for the country as a whole but also within different regions. By showing your German colleagues that you understand and respect their methods of conducting business, you also demonstrate your adaptability, deference and effectiveness in the business world.
Here are some examples of German business etiquette tips to when interacting within the German business culture:
Address colleagues formally – Always refer to your colleague within a business meeting by their formal title and surname unless instructed to do otherwise.; this is due to Germans valuing formality as well as authority.
Be punctual – Another paramount for a German business meeting is to definitely be on time, lateness or cancellations can be considered to be extremely rude and may have an extreme effect on your business relationship or in the worse case scenario cost the relationship completely.
Conduct a formal write up prior to meeting – By formally wiring up business meeting notes regarding topics of decisions within a meeting this shows your precision of record keeping and your eye for detail. Further to this, by providing a copy of your notes to your colleagues within the interview (either before of after) your colleagues are able to review what has been proposed and/or said.
Never enter a room unexpectedly – Always knock before entering, it’s common courtesy in general but for the German culture it is very important. Alongside this it is imperative that those of higher positions enter the room first. However if there are more than one person entering the room of the same position then males must enter before women.
Wait to be seated – In Germany you should wait to be seated; this is generally because the most senior ranked individual will allocate seating for each participant.
Business Etiquette Tips for Specific German-Speaking Countries:
Austria: In Austria, large amounts of written communication takes place when conducting business. Further to this it is also important to use formal language, as well as making sure than all translations are 100% accurate; this is to ensure fluent communication within business.
Germany: Make sure you shake hands before and after German business meetings – or at any point when you may have to prematurely leaving the meeting.
Liechtenstein: Avoid business meetings in Liechtenstein in peak vacation months; such as July and August as well as national holidays; particularly Easter and the week of Christmas. Further to this if you are invited to a private dinner business meeting be sure to bring a small gift – this usually consists of chocolates, flowers or non German liquors.
Although this is in relation to business meetings in Germany, the cultural values can be obtained in interviews or even in vacations to the country. It is important to always research into not only the company’s values but the values and beliefs that belong to the country or perhaps other countries that a business may work with or in. In the long run this can be massively beneficial for the building of your own knowledge but also for the company.
So remember – Think globally, act locally.