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Top 5 Etiquette rules to follow in Germany

Top 5 Etiquette rules to follow in Germany

“Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.”

The word etiquette has derived from the French word ‘estique’ which means to attach or to stick. It is a noun which describes the behaviour requirements for various occasions like ceremonies, formal event and everyday life. In short ‘etiquette’ can be defined as “the rules indicating the proper and polite way to behave’. People argue that etiquette no longer matters and the good behaviour are old fashioned and outdated. But the reality is good behaviours are never outdated. Etiquette begins by showing respect to others, being honest and trustworthy.

Top 5 Etiquette rules in Germany

Meeting Etiquettes:

Meeting Etiquettes

  • German people greet each other with a firm handshake by looking straight into their eyes with the other hand out of the pocket.
  • While meeting a woman a man should wait until she offers her hand first.
  • Recomposing a handshake with a slight bow or nod is a good way to make a mark an impression.
  • You must wait to get introduced to the group by your host or hostess.
  • A handshake with everyone individually including children is must while entering a room.
  • Handshakes sends a message of trust, sincerity, and honesty. So one must shake hands firmly without squeezing and holding others hand for too long or too short period of time. A weak handshake is an impression of insecurity and unconvincing nature.

Dining Etiquettes:

Dining Etiquettes

If invited to a German’s house –

  • You must be punctual and arrive on time. One should avoid arriving early.
  • If you are more than 15 minutes late then you should never arrive without telephoning the host and explaining him/ her the reason for your delay.
  • A short phone call or a thank you note on the following day to your host for his/her hospitality is considered as a good gesture.
  • Phone must be kept into silent mode or switched off.

Communication Etiquettes:

Communication Etiquettes

  • Germans prefer to communicate in a direct, short and to the point. Dictating emotions and unnecessary contents do not have a place in a conversation.
  • While arriving in a new environment be prepared to introduce yourself to an established group, a first step as a newcomer.
  • Compliments from strangers or very close acquaintance can be taken with suspicion (“What does he/she really meant to say or want”), as giving compliments is not a part of German customs.
  • You are free to have serious discussions in social meetings. Germans love to talk about politics and philosophy.

Public Behaviour :

Public Behaviour

  • Chewing gum while talking to someone is considered rude.
  • When a person is addressing you, maintaining an eye contact during the introduction is a serious, direct, and should be maintained as long as he/she is addressing you.
  • Immediately excuse yourself, with “Entschuldigung, das war nicht meine Absicht.” ( “Excuse me, that wasn’t my intention”) if you accidentally bump into someone or kick him/her under the table.
  • Germans value their time & privacy. They divide their time mentally between public and private. So you should not expect from your German colleagues to take you out much for meals and evening programs, as they assume the same that you will want to have time for yourself after work since this has the high priority for them in their culture.

Work Etiquette:

Work Etiquette


  • Germans avoid personal relationships in order to work together.
  • One should knock and wait to be invited in before entering into a room, as people often work with their door closed.
  • You can expect a great deal of written communications both to back-up decisions and to maintain a record of decisions & discussions.
  • Germans follow a strict protocol when entering a room or passing a threshold- The eldest or the highest ranking person enters first.
  • Germans signal their approval by rapping their knuckles on the table top.

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