A German is one who is punctual and prompt in work, strictly professional in business and procedural in their deeds. They are much disciplined and more concerned about self respect and hospitality. If you are in a plan for any business with a German or if you are in the plan of settling down there for prospects, it is better you learn Germany body language and gestures commonly in use. More than all, some universal body languages can sound offensive in Germany too. It is better to awake before getting into troubles because of wrong gestures.
It would be better to discuss the don’ts first. Don’t think about showing Nazi’s salute or swastika symbol as it is highly offensive and applicable to tourists too. You will be awarded an imprisonment for five years for just that act. The common gesture in use which can be misunderstood in Germany is the OK sign (making your index and thumb fingers form a circle) as it is considered unruly gesture. It is therefore important to avoid such hand gestures in Germany.
As said earlier, Germans are very much stringent when it comes to business. They are slow in taking business decisions and very analytical. There are many key points to be taken into consideration during business meetings with them. You have to make it a point to shake hands with everyone in the meeting during the start and finish. Never shake hands with one hand in the pocket as it is again a rude gesture. Children in Germany are taught not to do so and it is better you avoid the gesture. Don’t speak by chewing a gum ever in Germany.
There are lots of formalities followed in Germany during dinner, either business lunch or a personal one. There are different gestures followed by a host and a guest. At first, the person who hosts the dinner should raise his glass and show it to the woman on his right. After that he should toast to the entire group thus giving an indication that it is good to start. Similarly the guest should hold the glass at its stem and clank with the neighbors, look into any of the eyes in the group and raise the glass a bit high. Meanwhile you should also note that counting in most of the countries start with the index finger, whereas it starts with the thumb in Germany. When you think that you are ordering for one more to the waiter by raising your index finger, it is actually interpreted as “Wait a second”. So, raise your thumb to show that you need one drink!
Romantic gestures in Germany are different and interesting too. There are different meanings for those gestures too and should be exhibited in apt time. For example, when you walk with a girl on road, make sure you walk on the left side of the girl. This is indirectly telling that the girl is in your heart. But if the road is busy, you have to walk on the closest side of the traffic telling her that you are protective and guarantee security in her life. And when you wave your hands to bid a bye, it conveys the message “NO” to others. To make your intention of telling bye can be accomplished by raising your hand up showing your palm and beckon your fingers up and down.
We can’t live in the same way and mingle like how we have conditioned us in our native place. There is lot of cultural differences which should be studied first before going to a new country. This is really mandatory especially for European countries and Germany in specific. When you are in business relationship with them you have to make sure that you gain their confidence. They avoid latecomers and if by any chance you go late for a meeting, call them with the right reason for your delay. Discipline and punctuality should be maintained like your eyes in Germany.
A college lecture was scheduled at 9 a.m. and all the students were there in the hall by 8.59 a.m. When the lecturer came inside the hall, the students started to rap their knuckles on their desks evenly. Surprised? It is a gesture to greet in Germany if the seating arrangement doesn’t allow greeting everyone in person!
Last edited on 01.09.2012