Once you have arrived in the German professional world, you can expect business negotiations and formal business lunches. We will show you which rules of conduct and processes you can use as a guide so that you always appear appropriately and professionally.
Business negotiations in Germany often take place in a very formal framework. For the appointment, it is best to dress in a business look, because the first impression is very important here too. Be sure to be on time. If you do not make it in time, inform your business partners immediately and apologize. Therefore, it is better to avoid all trivial topics of conversation. As a rule, all results are summarized again at the end and you will receive an overview with the most important decisions a few days later. Typically German agreements are very detailed and binding. Once a resolution has been passed or a contract has been signed, you can be sure that everyone involved will adhere to it. The business lunch is like a casual business negotiation. In Germany, people meet for a business lunch either when a contract is to be prepared or celebrated or when they want to get to know new business partners. Networking is the focus of all events. If you make an appointment for lunch, it usually takes place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and dinner is between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Regardless of the occasion for which you are invited, it is best to act as if you were in a business negotiation. You should definitely be on time and dress appropriately. Again, you can’t go wrong with the business look. Often, however, a business casual look is also sufficient. If you don’t know each other very well, personal conversations at the table are usually not welcome. However, there are clear differences from company to company. It’s best to just wait and see how personal your superiors get. If you’re not sure, stick to casual small talk topics.
Good table manners are important in Germany, so it’s best to see how your colleagues behave. After a few brief words from the hostess, the meal begins. Don’t be surprised if there are lots of different cutlery next to your plate. Each cutlery is intended for a specific course. But you can’t go wrong by simply working your way from the outside in. When the food is served, wait until everyone at the table has had their meal, because we start together. If the business lunch takes place in the evening, alcohol is allowed, but not compulsory. You shouldn’t drink too much alcohol, it is still a business lunch. Once everything has been discussed at the end, a contract is rarely signed, in contrast to formal business negotiations. Agreements are simply sealed with a handshake. Such a handshake should be taken just as seriously.
When the evening ends successfully, the only question left is who will pay for the meal. If you are specifically invited to dinner, you don’t need to worry about anything. If every guest pays their own bill, you should tip the restaurant staff. Simply add about 5 to 10 percent to your invoice amount.