The advice of the week 7 / 2012
Explicitness of communication in Germany
With intensifying Indo-German economic relations there is an increasing number of Indian visitors to Germany and while there is considerable literature preparing Germans to visit India, there is some lack of socio-cultural information to prepare Indian professionals visiting Germany.
One of the foremost important things, apart from punctuality of time, which I would recommend to take into account while visiting Germany, is to make use of explicit communication as far as possible. For example, in India it is sometimes considered superficial to say by words “thank you” and “sorry” for small things. The reason is mostly not arrogance. Rather, many Indians believe that emotions such as gratefulness are best conveyed by one’s gestures and not by mere words. On the other hand, in a society like Germany, where people are traditionally used to explicit communication, saying “thank you” and “sorry” is considered polite and even necessary as unequivocal recognition of the other person’s efforts or the (inadvertent) trouble caused to him.
Explicit communication is also useful in culinary matters as your German hosts would generally assume that your “no” to more food is really meant as a “no” and would refrain from what they think would be unwarranted insistence. In short, don’t be overformal and convey your feelings, wherever feasible, in a direct manner.