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October 03, 2013

R. D. Lewis: Got Grϋndlichkeit?

Two Englishmen, meeting on the street may say "Hello"’ and exchange brief words on the weather.

Two Germans are likely to ask "Alles in Ordnung?" (Is everything in order?). Ordnung is not just a word, but a world view. Follow the rules, be organised, do the expected.

Some important German rules. But don't get nervous. At his Cross-Culture, Richard D. Lewis, a well-known British linguist and international business consultant, writes that German business people are very different than you and me, Ernest, in "The Cultural Commandments: Germany". There are ten. Our two favorites:

1. Be thorough...and then check everything again. Lewis: "Grϋndlichkeit (thoroughness) is a core German virtue. You should show a mastery of facts, figures, and every last detail."

3. Don’t make it sound too simple. "Life isn’t simple, is it? So why pretend otherwise? To German ears, simple messages are not complete..."

Lewis, who has made cross-cultural communication in commerce his life's work, offers a summary. Germans as traders are (a) honest, expecting others to be honest, (b) straightforward, and (c) blunt, "disagreeing openly rather than going for diplomacy".

Any questions?


Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at October 3, 2013 11:59 PM


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