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Etiquette to follow in Germany – 9 points to Remember!

The human race has an organized societal setup. In every society, there are some societal norms- the socially acceptable and acclaimed behaviors that are expected out of people belonging to that society. Every country has its own tradition and culture. What is considered appropriate behavior in one country might not be an acceptable mannerism in another country. 

However, when you visit a different land and you are aware of their etiquettes, it saves you from a lot of discomfitures. Also, you connect well with the native population. 

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use:”

That goes a popular quote. Having good manners is a prerequisite to be a good person. Etiquettes follow. If you are well behaved and well mannered at your place, it will show in your demeanor in the other country. Learning the local etiquettes is a step further.

Germans, as a society, lay a lot of emphasis on their etiquettes. Let’s have a look at their most common etiquettes:

  • Greet- Say proper Hellos and goodbyes.

In Germany, proper greetings are critical. When you enter a 

room, office, restaurant, shop, doctor, etc., you are expected to say a proper hello on arrival and wish a goodbye while leaving. Even on the telephone, the same etiquette is expected. Don’t forget to extend the greetings to other members of the family when you are on phone, even if you don’t know them. 

  • Drinking

While drinking with Germans, it is important to make eye contact with one another while clinking glasses. They believe that a failure to do so brings bad luck. When a German refuses a drink on asking, do not force. Remember, they are very open to drinking. The legal age in Germany for Beer and Wine is 16 years. Drinks are a common part of meals. However, it is completely acceptable if someone refuses to drink. 

  • Punctuality

Germans are extremely punctual. So if you have an appointment with them, you just cannot be late. Even a delay of 5-10 minutes can be offensive to them. If at all there is some urgency and you are not able to make it on time, make sure to call up the person and inform. Always be 5-10 minutes early for an appointment. 

  • Dining Etiquettes

Germans follow very formal dining etiquette. When in Germany, use your utensils. Use the fork and the spoon. They are famous for eating almost everything with cutlery, including open-faced toasts. They use the right hand for cutting food portions with a knife and then the left hand for eating it unlike the American style of eating with only the right hand. Also, they are pretty straightforward in almost everything including dining and hosting a dinner. So, if you say a no to their offer of a second serving, out of humbleness, they take it as a No and you shouldn’t expect someone forcing you for eating more. So, do not hesitate in taking more on your plate.

Also, it is very common to share tables with strangers in public places. Do not be surprised if the waiter hands over the empty seat on your table to someone you don’t even know.  

  • Handling Waste

Germans are very thoughtful with managing their waste and they recycle it to the maximum. So, if your German neighbor spots you throwing away waste bottles or papers that can be recycled, you might, well, expect a strained relationship with them. Yeah, good to learn some DIYs!

  • Gifting

It is as appreciated as anywhere. Take flowers if you are invited to any German home. Bouquets are a good choice and they should always be unwrapped before gifting. Red roses are considered romantic while Lillies and chrysanthemums are given at funerals. Toiletries and other personal items should be avoided for gifting unless you are very close to the gift recipient. 

  • Dressing in Germany

Germans are a bit formal in their dressing sense and not as casual as in America. SO, you are expected to dress appropriately for the occasion. Dress formally for office visits and also for college. 

  • Shaking Hands

Germans are good at shaking hands and like to do it every time they greet someone while meeting as well as departing. When you enter a professional setup, do shake hands with each person present there, one at a time. If you are close to someone, kissing on the left and right cheek is common but not so in a formal setup. 

  • Other general Etiquettes.

Then there are a few general etiquettes that are common in other countries too. As common at other places also, it is considered rude to keep hands in your pockets or chew gum while talking to someone. Do not rest your feet on the furniture. While sitting, cross your legs by keeping one knee over the other. Knock before entering a room. Do not cross the road while the lights are red, even when you are on foot. 

As I’ve already mentioned, every place has its own culture and etiquettes. It’s always good to learn the Dos and Donts of a place before visiting. It helps you bond with the locals and makes your stay more comfortable. As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”… or “When in Germany, do as the Germans do”!

Join Speakeng to get yourself ready for Germany. We make you a proficient German language user and also make you well versed with their etiquettes. With us by your side, you can be confident of making the most of your German visit. 

We have our branches at Marathahalli, Koramangala, Madiwala, BTM Layout, Electronic City, JP Nagar, Malleshwaram, Mangalore. In addition, we also have online classes available that you can join from absolutely anywhere.


Vaishali Pandey

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