We offer a short guide to culture and social etiquette in Germany.
Germany’s diversity of lifestyle, preferences and ethno-culture has formed an open-minded and tolerant society. Despite social developments, the family continues to be a significant unit of identity and pride for Germans. Good education, a high standard of living and great freedom enable the country to deal positively with transitions and challenges. Germans respect perfectionism in all areas of business and private life.
Order, privacy and punctuality come first for German people.
An important part of German culture is shaking hands. It is customary to shake someone’s hand when you meet them for the first time. It is rude to shake hands with one hand in your pocket and don’t put them your pockets when conversing with someone.
Be on time
Punctuality is common practice in Germany. Being on time is an important part of social etiquette. For business meetings and social occasions punctuality is taken seriously. When you have an appointment with friends, you should arrive at the time you have arranged.
When you are invited to a private home for afternoon coffee or dinner, it is good to bring a small gift for the hosts. Flowers, a bottle of wine or candies are an appropriate gift.
Significant changes were witnessed during and after World War II, when due to shortages of men, women came to hold positions of authority. They actively remained in the workforce. They aimed for higher education and became a significant part of the country’s workforce and at the same time kept house.
Titles and names
Germans appear reserved and unfriendly until you get to know them. It gives a good impression to use titles correctly. Besides Herr (Mr.) and Frau (Ms.) academic and other titles are quite important. A Doctor can be used either for a medical doctor or a holder of Ph.D. The old- fashioned Fraulein (Miss) is not used. It is more appropriate to use Frau, because it is more neutral and does not show the woman’s marital status.
The German language has a formal and informal form of address.
The formal Sie is always used together with the last name. Du (you) is used among younger people and friends, as well as for children. It is used together with the first name. If you are unsure which form to use, listen for which form of address the person you are conversing with uses and adopt the same form.
Recycling is Germany’s contribution to the global battle to save the environment, and the country has been very successful in its fight against growing garbage heaps.
Trash is often separated in Germany, in private homes and sometimes in public bins as well. Separate disposal areas can be found for glass, paper and packaging. Private homes may also have a separate container for organic waste, such as coffee grinds and food leftovers.