German Society And Culture

Real Germans hate "winging it". They like pre-planned programs with lots of little details. They can usually be the first people to point out that you made a mistake in your planning.

germanculture_mediumGermans value order, privacy and punctuality. They are thrifty, hard working and industrious. Germans respect perfectionism in all areas of business and private life. In Germany, there is a sense of community and social conscience and strong desire for belonging. To admit inadequacy -- even in jest -- is incomprehensible.

Punctuality And Efficiency

You may be aware of the stereotyping of German people as being overtly punctual and efficient. This generalization may actually have some bearing, as punctuality is considered to be very important in regards to most German people’s idea of ‘proper’ social etiquette! For this reason, when in Germany you should always retain your punctuality, whether you are convening with others on a tourist outing, attending a dinner party, or making an appointment with a professional.

  • Punctuality is highly valued. Being on time for meetings, appointments, and services is expected.
  • Buses and trains are almost always on time, being even two minutes late is rare.
  • If invited to a big informal party, being fashionably late is fine. However, when invited to a more intimate party or dinner, it is best to not be more than 15 minutes late.

Make sure that you give plenty of notice if you intend to call on a German person at home or in business. Merely turning up on someone’s doorstep is considered to be very bad manners. Similarly, if you think that you might be late to an appointment, meeting or social event, you should always make a point of calling your host or acquaintance to explain your late arrival. This is thought to be a common courtesy in Germany.

A Planning Culture

  • In many respects, Germans can be considered the masters of planning.
  • This is a culture that prizes forward thinking and knowing what they will be doing at a specific time on a specific day.
  • Real Germans hate "winging it". They like pre-planned programs with lots of little details. They can usually be the first people to point out that you made a mistake in your planning.
  • Careful planning, in one's business and personal life, provides a sense of security.
  • Rules and regulations allow people to know what is expected and plan their life accordingly.
  • Once the proper way to perform a task is discovered, there is no need to think of doing it any other way.
  • Germans believe that maintaining clear lines of demarcation between people, places, and things is the surest way to lead a structured and ordered life.
  • Work and personal lives are rigidly divided.
  • There is a proper time for every activity. When the business day ends, you are expected to leave the office. If you must remain after normal closing, it indicates that you did not plan your day properly.
  • Germans are in love with their jobs. A German without a recognized profession is a nobody.
  • Germans consider holiday (vacation) time a God-given right.
  • German people value honesty, hard work, and order. They connect more easily with people who they consider to be skilled, prompt, and intelligent. At the same time, they tend shy away from strange or foreign ideas.

A Law-Abiding Nation

The first time you see a German standing at an intersection in the rain, no cars in sight, waiting for the “walk” signal, you’ll see what a law-abiding nation Germany is. Jaywalking is only one of several petty offenses that will mark you as a foreigner (and subject you to fines); littering is another. Many tourists also do not realize that the bike lanes marked in red between the sidewalk and the road are strictly off-limits for pedestrians. The drinking age is 16 for beer and wine and 18 for hard liquor, and it is not uncommon to see young teenagers in a store picking up a bottle of wine for the family dinner. Driving under the influence, however, is a severe offense. Drug use has yet to become publicly acceptable, even where penalties are more relaxed.

Surprisingly common in Germany, the Hausordnung (house regulations/tenants regulations) is a set of rules that governs the daily life in uncounted apartment houses. The Hausordnung tells the Germans when they can make noise or music, when they have to be quiet. Who has to clean the stairwell, take out the trash or shovel snow. It even tells them how often they are allowed to have a party.

Sense Of Humor

There is a rumor that Germans have no sense of humor. This is absolutely false. They do have a sense of humor, in fact there is even a non-translatable word for their sense of humor, "Schadensfreude". There are two words stuck in this word. The first one is "Schadens" which means "misfortune", "damage", "injury". The other word is "Freude" which means "joy", "happiness". In other words, it literally means "joy for another's misfortune", which is why Mr. Bean is more popular in Germany than in Britain. Germans do not feel any sympathy for Mr. Bean. They are not laughing with him; they are laughing at him.

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