Germany Business Etiquette
Meetings are a common feature of corporate life in Germany and they follow a formal procedure. A Short and firm handshake is the most typical greeting. Punctuality really does matter in Germany and meetings are taken seriously as they may go into considerable detail. German managers always aim for decisive outcomes and results, rather than provide a forum for open and general discussions. Therefore, it is important to provide solid facts and examples to back up proposals.
German market is one of the most competitive in the world and it receives offers from thousands of suppliers. They focus on product quality and service, especially the production and the technical aspects. In German, a person’s word and handshake are considered his/her bond. If a verbal agreement is made in a business meeting, it is generally considered binding. Don't use slang language and colloquialisms at all.
Titles & Business Culture
In Germany, surnames and titles are used to address people. When the professional title is known (Doktor, Direktor, Professor) it must be put after Mr. or Mrs.
German business culture has a well-defined and strictly observed hierarchy, with clear responsibilities and distinctions between roles and departments. In formal German business meetings, it is customary for the highest-ranking person to enter the room first.
Outdoor eating is very popular in Germany and business entertaining usually takes place in restaurants. The Germans enjoy linking gastronomic pleasures with interesting conversation about potential business. Do not begin eating until the host starts or someone says “Guten Appetit” (have a nice meal).
Table manners are very important in Germany. Do not rest your elbows on the table and always give the tip -5%, to the waiter/waitress and do not leave it on the table.
Beer and wine are part of a normal business dinner and alcoholic drinks are usually offered to guests. Schnapps is a popular drink at the end of meals.