When it comes to Germans, you will probably think that the people are "strict" because they are punctual, meticulous, reserved and little humorous. This perception is only true to a certain extent. You shouldn’t worry too much because most Germans would be willing to overlook the mistakes by people coming from other countries. But this doesn't mean you can skip some do's and don'ts to make a good first impression.
Germans love to shake hands and often do so both at meetings and parting. It's also common to shake hands with people one-on-one when you meet a group.
Germans love to shake hands
Beer and wine are usually included in dinner. Alcoholic beverages are usually served to invite guests. However, if you do not drink, it is still completely acceptable. Don't try to offer people beer or wine when they've declined it and don't order alcoholic beverages for them, either. When a German refuses to drink, it is not because they are shy or polite, it is because they do not want to drink.
When you have an appointment or a meeting with someone, don't be late. Germans are extremely punctual and even being a few minutes late can make them uncomfortable. Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early for important appointments and call in advance if you really can't be on time.
Bring flowers to give as a gift if you're invited to a local's house for an occasion. If the flowers are wrapped in paper, be sure to open the wrapping just before you enter the house.
If you come to a local’s house on an occasion, bring flower as a gift
Germans are very conscious about protecting the environment and always sort waste to facilitate recycling. If your neighbor finds you throwing recyclable glass or paper in the regular trash, your relationship could be strained for a long time.
The Germans pay attention to sorting waste
When you enter an office, you should knock on the door first and then open the door and walk in. Germans like to enjoy quietness and privacy. Therefore, they often close the door to their room, but will still be happy to welcome you if you knock on the door. A closed-door doesn't mean the owner can't be disturbed.
Don't make phone calls to anyone’s home after 10 PM unless you've consulted them before. Don't expect to be able to call anyone in offices after 5 PM from Monday to Thursday and after 4 PM on Fridays.
When answering the phone, introduce yourself by your last name.
Crossing the knife and the fork on a plate is a sign that your meal isn't done yet. Placing the knife and fork on the right side parallel to the plate is a sign to the waiter that you're done and they can clear your plate.
Sitting at the same table with strangers when the restaurant is crowded is a very normal and common practice in Germany. However, before you sit at any seat, point it out and ask if anyone is already seated. You can wish everyone at the table well, but don't expect to have conversations at the table. When you get up, don't forget to say goodbye to those at the table.
Germans often cheer and say "Have fun" or "Good luck" before drinking. At formal dinners, it is common to raise a glass and nod slightly to others. The host will be the first to toast. At a dinner party or in a restaurant, you should not start eating or drinking before everyone has received their portions of food and drinks.
Germans often raise a glass and nod slightly to others at formal dinners
As is customary in Germany, the waiter will receive a 5 to 10% tip, or you can simply round up smaller amounts.
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