by Hermann Kracke
I did not like the title of Adam Fletcher’s book ‘How to be German’ very much when I first heard about it - maybe in a - ironically typically German fashion - taking it too literally wondering why someone would want to be German of all things. Being curious I ordered a copy anyway but then - though a really fun read - found myself confirmed that it wasn’t for me and put it aside quickly again.
I’m now thinking it could also be that actually because he has taken such a light approach to the topic I assumed there would not be anything profound or important about it. That was a misconception, however.
As when I stumbled upon his posts on the blog he had published them initially the other day again (links embedded below) I found them both - entertaining (as before) but mostly dead on target as well and certainly worth a closer look.
The German mindset
I have therefore revisited the 50 little chapters of his book for you from a business point of view - not that encouraging people to spend their time on literally ‘becoming’ German would appear more reasonable to me now - but convinced that it may very well be a useful exercise to learn to think like a German in certain respects when doing business here.
Five of his steps I would like to point out to you which seem specifically relevant (while others are also true and funny, especially if you have already been to Germany a couple of times, but perhaps a bit more dispensable ;-).
Planning, preparation and process
You really should internalize ‘planning, preparation and process’ (#3, page 9 but also available online here - or as Adam puts it “the three central tenets of Germanism”. On this I could not agree more.
For my view on how that culture standard may affect your business transactions in Germany also check out my blog article:
Say what you mean
‘Say what you mean’ is the other must read (#18, p. 27 and online on Adam’s website).
The communication style you’ll be confronted with in Germany may be very different to your own and cause a lot of misunderstanding.
It’s therefore a good idea to become aware of culture specific communication styles in general and the German style of low context in particular and not to take offense easily.
Rules, qualifications and practicality
If you can get your hands on a copy of his book - which I recommend because it will be fun in any case - also check out: Stick to the rules (#27, p. 37), Get qualified (#38, p. 50) and Practicality trumps everything (#44, p.58).
All three shrewdly carve out some common German traits which can make certain reactions you have probably encountered in your day to day business with Germans a bit less peculiar or at least more expectable.
Some of the other observations may make sense to you only once you have stayed in Germany for a while or have been dealing with Germans a fair bit but those you can review at a later point and it’s not a major expense.
If you know the book (or have skimmed through the first fifteen available online) - what is the step that resonates most with you based on some experience you have made in Germany or with Germans?
I’d like to hear your take on this. Feel free to leave your comment below!