German business partners focus mainly on the substance of negotiations, so communication usually occurs only at the task level and does not touch the relationship level.

Trust in a partner is established on the basis of criteria such as successful past cooperation. Germans do not spend free time with their partners so to intuitively understand whether they can trust him.

German partners may offer a small trial cooperation to verify your trustworthiness, responsibility and the quality of your work. Take advantage of such an offer because, if the trial project ends successfully, it is usually followed by further cooperation.

They are usually a well-organized team.

Various specialists on specific issues may take part in negotiations on the German side.

Sometimes differences between German colleagues are discussed at the negotiation table although, as a rule, Germans do not interfere with the comments of their colleagues. In such a situation it should be remembered that, in the final analysis, the interests of the task will be most important for the German delegation.

For this reason it is important to listen attentively to the opinion and arguments of all participants in the negotiations, not only to those of the delegation leader. He will most likely change his position if he considers the arguments of his subordinates convincing.

So a good behaviour is to Identify the most important person in the delegation, attentively follow what that person says, try to get that person’s interest and convince this individual most of all.

The negotiation process is formal

Assume that your German colleagues will come to the negotiations well prepared. They also expect serious preparation from you. If you got the impression that your German partners aren’t prepared at all to meet you, this could very well mean that either the meeting itself or the topic of discussion are not sufficiently interesting for them.

A German can be convinced only by strict logic, by figures, facts and expert opinions, in other words, by means of information. As we have already mentioned, information should be set out in written and/or electronic form.

German business people follow a pragmatic and detailed approach in the negotiation process. Don’t try to refuse to discuss such issues. For Germans, as has already been said above, ‘the devil’s in the details’.

Business is serious for Germans

You shouldn’t attempt to ‘diffuse the situation’ with the help of jokes, especially if you don’t know your counterparts. In Germany this is considered frivolous or tactless. For this reason, jokes are not recommended. There is room for jokes after the end of the official part of the negotiations, over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

If the agenda of your meeting has already been approved, you shouldn’t change it during the course of the negotiations.

Germans will attentively hear out your arguments, will carefully write down new facts, all of the comments and observations, and the next day (or at the time agreed) will present you with counter-arguments and counter-proposals.

In Germany, compromise means ‘meeting someone half way’, which is a generally accepted and expected strategy in the negotiation process.

German business partners observe a well-known hierarchy

This means, for example, that people with high status or position express themselves more often, their statements are longer than those of average members of the delegation, and they are greeted and presented first. However, in general, respect for status in Germany is demonstrated much less than in Russia, in Asia, or the Middle East.

During negotiations with Germans you should attentively listen to the speakers and take notes without cutting off or interrupting them, without consulting with the other members of your delegation, or working on your notebook computer. Write down your questions and ask them at the end of the speech, unless the speaker himself has explicitly invited people to ask questions during the speech.

It is generally accepted that during negotiations mobile phones are switched to silent mode, which will not interfere with the negotiations.

Remember that in Germany there is a strict distinction between work and private life. So you shouldn’t touch any personal subjects during negotiations.
You will be expected to dress appropriately for the business setting. The main criteria are appropriateness and quality.

During business meetings with partners in Germany alcoholic beverages are not offered. However, coffee, tea, soft drinks, cookies and/or fruit are served to participants at the negotiation table or on a side table.

The successful completion of negotiations and contract signing is usually celebrated with a shared lunch or dinner. At the end of the negotiations, especially if they have occurred in stages, this information is sent out to all participants in the negotiations and to all interested/involved structural subdivisions.

We recommend confirming any receipt of documents. Review the minutes when you receive them; try to clarify any open questions immediately, and express your agreement/disagreement with the documents in general or on individual points.

German business people do what they have verbally agreed to do. But this is a privilege of long-standing partnership.

In other cases, for example, at the beginning of the cooperation, a change of contact persons or political or economical situations may occur, what is written ‘black on white’ is considered more reliable: from the German perspective, there are fewer misunderstandings and incorrect interpretations, which prevents problems in the future and reduces the probability of disagreements at later stages of cooperation.

Fonte: a cura di Exportiamo, di Morvarid Mahmoodabadi,


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