Today’s post is another guest post, this time by Sean Patrick Hopwood of Day Translations, Inc.. Thank you, Sean, and over to you:
Cars, classical music, beer and sausages – these are just some of the things Germany is famous for. The country’s current population is 82.67 million and only 5% of the residents do not speak German as their mother tongue. Around the world, German is spoken in 28 countries by 132.1 million people. German is ranked 15th most spoken language in the world, with 76.0 million people using it as their first language.
The German language today
German is the official language in Germany and in Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. It’s one of the three official languages in Switzerland. The German language has features similar to Frisian languages, English and Dutch, which are all members of the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family.
Several countries worldwide speak German, such as South Africa and France, as well as in large German Diasporas in the United States, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Costa Rica and Paraguay. While is it a minority language in Russia, it is a national language in the African country of Namibia. In several parts of Brazil, German is a cultural language, In Italy, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and the Czech Republic, German is recognized as a minority language.
Working in Germany
Germany offers lucrative work opportunities for qualified professionals. If you meet the standard conditions for immigration, gain recognition for your qualifications as a professional in your chosen field and able to satisfy the German language skills requirements, you’ll have a wonderful time working in Germany, aside from learning manners in the workplace that contribute to Germany’s economic success.
Here are some of the German language expressions and manners that would definitely leave a lasting impression and perhaps make you a more valuable and effective talent.
Manners in the workplace
You will have many opportunities to interact with clients and your German colleagues when you start working. It is inevitable that you’ll be using verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, as you try to adjust to the setup in your new workplace.
In Germany, a direct communication style is very common. Germans rarely show their emotions when having conversations at work. You have to get used to this. It may even be an advantage for you, as you do not have to think of ways to break the ice just to start a conversation. You just say what you have to say, express your concern or opinion quickly and go back to your task. Since this is the norm, if will do you good to just follow your colleagues.
- Phone rules. Observe some specific rules when answering the phone. Being respectful is mandatory, more so because you are from another culture. Germans customarily answer the phone by saying their last name. If you are the one calling another person, especially one that you do not know very well, it is important to use ‘Sie.’ Wait until you are told to by someone to talk to them informally. Stick to being polite whenever you talk to someone of authority, senior in rank or a person unfamiliar to you. It’s normal to address them by their last names or their titles. Using the first names of people around you is reserved for family members and very close friends.
- Punctuality at work. When working in Germany, punctuality is vital. While many German companies are offering flexible hours, when you’re on a fixed work schedule, always report for work on time. You should call the office and briefly give your reason if you are going to be late for work.
- Punctuality in meetings. Being punctual is also essential during meetings or work sessions. It is customary for Germans to start and end their meetings as stated. They also like to stick to what is on the agenda. They do not like discussions disrupted by other topics so if you have other issues you need to tackle, make sure that you schedule another meeting for it. Prior notice should be given before you can meet with another colleague to discuss some concerns. If you have pressing issues, send an email or call the people concerned to alert them.
- Small talk. Germans are somewhat reserved and they do not engage in small talk often. If you are from another country, use your German language skills to your advantage. Start a conversation going at the right time and keep at it. It can keep that office environment relaxed. You can improve your German speaking skills and you thaw the reserved demeanour of your German colleagues. Engaging in small talks at the appropriate time can lead to lasting friendships and boost the camaraderie in the workplace.
- Safe topics. You should still consider that Germans are quite reserved so when engaging in small talk, see to it that you only talk about safe topics like travel, hobbies, the weather or sports. They do not like people getting too familiar and asking the, about their income and their families. Wait for them to open up and volunteer personal information. It will be good if you learn to observe personal space quickly. However, German office workers also love to socialize as part of their office culture. They often have small office celebrations and excursions. If you want to be invited into their circle, you have to join them.
Learning the German language will help you to be work comfortably in Germany. It is not a requirement that you be funny or knowledgeable. What you need is to learn their culture, show respect and stay relaxed. While they may look reserved, they will be welcoming. Keenly observe how Germans start their conversation and learn their language expressions so you can adapt to the way they work and conduct their daily lives faster.
Many people describe Germans are direct, precise, humourless, punctual, organized, disciplined and so on. But those characteristics are part of their cultural make up. But if you observe their manners, their language expressions and their work environment, you will find that these characteristic contribute immensely to their business success. Germany’s economy is one of Europe’s strongest.
It is challenging to work in Germany, many more so than other countries. However, if you are adventurous and willing to try new things, you may learn new things about yourself, discover another culture, be more competitive, learn novel management styles and enjoy work environments.
Sean Patrick Hopwood is a language polyglot and a language enthusiast. His goal in life is to bring world peace through education, tolerance and cultural awareness. He is also the President and Founder at Day Translations, Inc., a global translation company.