I’m very excited to be embarking on our travel to Germany in four weeks! It will be incredibly valuable to our project that we can connect face-to-face with our clients and discuss ideas and objectives.
When going abroad, it will be important to remember that there are many different and similar cultural norms between the US and Germany. In many ways, we conduct business very similar to Germany, but in other ways we are a little different.
For starters, there could be a language barrier. Our clients appear to speak impeccable English, but there will most likely be a strong accent to uncover. As well, we will be have to be mindful to use direct language so that we can clearly communicate our thoughts without our clients getting lost in lengthy convoluted sentences with English is not their first language.
Another challenge will be Germany’s task vs relationship based management. Task oriented means that people tend to be “work before play”, or in other words, we like to sit down at a meeting and get straight to discussing business. Trust is earned throughout business by accomplishing a task promptly under the requirements established. Relationship based management means that trust is earn through friendships first, then through business. Businesses will want to sit down and share a meal together (for example) to get to know each other on a personal level before deciding to conduct business.
The US tends to fall very left-wing on the spectrum, meaning that we are highly task oriented. Germany as well falls under task oriented, but they do have a slight element of relationship-based trust as well. This being considered, it will be important to incorporate the relationship elements throughout our working relationship with our clients. For example, it might be helpful to go to lunch one day in Germany together to get to know each other personally. This hopefully will create trust in our relationship, which ultimately will help us persuade our client on our deliverables throughout our project.
Another cultural element we will need to consider in Germany is how do Germans trust on the cognitive vs affective scale. Cognitive trust means that trust is based on skills and reliability as we “think from the head”. Affective trust is built from emotions, friendships, and family connections as we “think from the heart”. Similar to the task-based vs relationships spectrum, the US relies heavily on cognitive trust when conducting business. Germans often as well use cognitive trust, but they also value affective trust as well. We will want to build a cognitive and affective trusting relationship with our clients throughout our stay in Germany.
When in Germany, it will be important to acknowledge how much context Germans typically uses when communicating. Low context means that information gained through a conversation is precise, business related, and to-the-point. High contest means that there is information to uncover throughout a conversation that is not clearly stated. For example, body language and tone of voice are important to pick up. The US tends to be very low context, where Germany tends to be majority low, with a slight use of high context. This means that we should be aware of reading between the lines when conducting a conversation with our client.
From being in Germany, I believe I will grow as a communicator. It will be an incredibly eye-opening experience to be immersed within a completely new culture to me. I will have to adapt quickly to their customs and ways of communication.
It will be learning experience conducting business with non US clients. I will have to navigate around language barriers and understand how personal they want our business relationship to be. Knowing that Germany’s cultural norms in the workplace are not exactly like the US’s, I will have to adjust my style and step outside my comfort zone. This experience will expand my skills in communication and in international business.
I hope to one day continue working in a field of marketing where I will be managing clients, so having this experience that is challenge in so many cultural ways will only strength my skillset for my future job opportunities.