February 29, 2024

7 tips for doing business with the UK

Brexit brings a lot of uncertainty, including trade. Great Britain is one of Germany’s most important economic partners. Despite the geographical proximity, there are some cultural differences. This article explains what you should pay attention to when working with the British.

1. Humor is required

Humor plays a big role in communicating with Britons. Britons like to mask emotions with humour, defuse conflicts, or use them as an ‘ice breaker’ during presentations. “Black humour,” often accompanied by a dose of sarcasm, is both famous and notorious. They are delivered seriously, and are often difficult to recognize. If you want to score points for Great Britain, show a sense of humour.

2. Self-control is preferred

People in Germany still care about titles. This is somewhat unusual in Great Britain. Only braggarts insist on titles and successes. When interviewing, it is best to orient yourself towards the British business partner and not put yourself too far ahead. Anyone who insists too strongly on his point of view soon becomes a “know-it-all” – a know-it-all with what is supposed to be “typical German arrogance.”

3. Trump politely

Apologizing when someone bumps into you is the British sense of politeness. You shouldn’t skimp on thanks, and it’s better to say “thank you very much” or “cheers” too much rather than too little. In business, Britons find it difficult to communicate directly with Germans and get straight to the point. The words “We want” or “You must…” should be eliminated directly from your vocabulary. The phrase “Can you please?” In good faith to German ears the Brits top it off with a more polite phrase like “I wonder, do you think you can…?” Or “Do you mind?”

4. Be careful with criticism

Britain treated Germany’s much-loved “constructive criticism” in a more friendly and less obvious manner. A seemingly small comment can lead to a full review of the report. Polite British phrases like “very helpful” and “interesting” can lead to rejection. The British express their true enthusiasm with the word “excellent” or “fantastic”. A clear sign of interest in someone and their services is an invitation to an informal dinner.

5. Show flexibility

While the Germans are often viewed as pedants due to their love of planning, project plans and to-do lists, the British prefer practical solutions and “fumble around” on a case-by-case basis. Unknown influencing factors pose fewer problems than for the German partners. Because what matters is “common sense” and your own experience. Therefore, when working together, you must “keep it straight” and be flexible.

6. Self-discipline and celebrate together

Good English style contrasts with British office events, which, as parties of a wild character at any time of the year, are more reminiscent of the Rhenish Carnival. Even in the “Crazy Socks Days”, many people decorate their office attire with crazy socks. The British have mastered the balance between noble self-discipline and spirited celebration. Crossing boundaries together is sometimes desirable. Anyone who completely bans it will quickly be seen as a hindrance to fun. Advice from them Karl Duesberg Centre: Stay authentic – even small accessories show good faith.

7. Hierarchy in communication

The English like to go straight to the first name. If you’re not sure, wait to see if it’s offered to you. However, friendly behavior is not recommended. Despite the relaxed tone, there are hierarchical differences that are more subtly communicated. For example, bosses have longer speaking segments in meetings. In addition, a handshake is usually only used when meeting someone for the first time – this is quite unusual in Great Britain. “Good to see you” or “How are you?” It is considered quite adequate.

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