I learned much the hard way from my interactions with German businesses over the years. I’d like to share some surprising advice with you – things I consider as ESSENTIAL for interacting and negotiating with Germans…
During the Meeting:
1. Anticipate the Style: Expect a more formal meeting than in the USA. Approach the discussion in a systematic and organized way. Propose an agenda and follow it! Don’t jump around. Establish expectations for outcomes. Everyone should have a chance to be heard in the meeting. Direct and participative communication is appreciated.
If you are not used to a strong banter, you may be taken by surprise or wear down quickly. Modestly demonstrating your technical expertise and industry experience lends creditability and trust. Stand your ground and make a case for your goals. Jeff Hannah
2. Control Your Emotions: It’s certainly okay to be passionate. But, don’t let emotions or personal feelings cloud your arguments. Be respectful. Keep a clear head and rely heavily on logic and fact. Strongest logic wins!
3. Stay Focused: Don’t expect too much small talk or chitchat. You will generally get right down to business. Don’t get distracted by sideline / ancillary issues. Keep the main things the main things! This is not the same as detail, which requires proper attention.
4. Communicate Clearly: Be clear, direct and consistent in your responses. Miscommunication happens easily and often with language barriers and industry jargon. Verbalize details in a couple of different ways to see if everyone still agrees. Use visuals, sketches, and drawings to clarify and document details. Here are more insights on dealing with LANGUAGE BARRIERS.
5. Expect Uber Specificity: The meeting will likely delve into greater detail than you expect as an American. Be very specific / precise with details. Start with the overall, and then go into the details, following a systematic approach, including costs, numbers, etc. Expect to work in the metric system. Be PRECISE with TIME also.
6. Maintain Resilience: If you are not used to a strong banter, you may be taken by surprise or wear down quickly. Modestly demonstrating your technical expertise and industry experience lends creditability and trust. Stand your ground and make a case for your goals; don’t give up, and don’t take pushback personally.
After the Meeting:
Just Do It: Do what you committed to do. And, don’t wait for days or weeks. Do it as quickly as possible!
For the essentials of planning for a meeting with Germans, go to PART 1 of this blog: “Before the Meeting.”