7 Things NOT to do in Germany

Ze Germans are complicato to comprehend. Of course it’s pretty naïve to generalize; however, since the majority makes the rules I am at liberty to illustrate some of the most common German etiquettes that will accompany any expat living in these lands… except for Berlin coz you know Berlin is so cool it’s not even German.

Germans are formal people and masterful planners. They believe in rules and regulations and leading structured and orderly lives. Communication is mostly formal and they keep a clear division between home life and business. Regimen and routine give them comfort in knowing how and when something will be accomplished. There is an expectation that social graces and forms of etiquette will be respected and adhered to by locals and visitors alike.

With international travel becoming so essential and affordable, learning about a country’s culture and etiquette, before visiting the place, has never been so important. Being well-informed about the customs and etiquette prevalent in that region can help prevent blunders, visitors usually make in a foreign land. Ignorance may lead to offending somebody’s beliefs or hurting someone’s emotions. Thus, it is better to be well-versed with the same. Germany, being the third largest economy in the world, is a great platform for international business.

People from all over the world, come here for business meetings. Thus, scores of people are looking for information about Germany’s culture and traditions.

  1. Never shout the Nazi salute or raise your hand to the Hitler greeting. This is considered a grave offense in Germany and can even get you arrested, with a 5-year prison sentence. Moreover, it is better not to mention Hitler at all and even if the subject props up, do it respectfully.
  2. Never throw water bottles in the bin, after use. You will end up losing 25 cents. This is because when you purchase a bottle of water, you pay 25 cents more than the rate mentioned on the bottle. Only when you return the empty bottle to the shop, do you receive the 25 cents back. This additional charge is taken to ensure you return the bottle for recycling and not throw it into the trash.
  3. Never cross the street when the traffic light is red. Wait for the green man. Jaywalking is not tolerated in the country. You can be fined for doing so.
  4. Never walk on the bicycle lane. Firstly, it is strictly prohibited and secondly, you don’t want to be hit by a cyclist. Keep to the sidewalk.
  5. Never point your finger to your head. This is considered an insult, which means you are saying the person is crazy.
  6. Chewing gum, placing one hand in the pocket, etc. while talking to someone can be considered very impolite.
  7. Never get drunk, as public drunkenness is not acceptable.

There are many clichés about the Germans, many stressing their punctuality, thoroughness, reserve and lack of humor. This is only true to a certain extent. Generally, people will understand if you make a mistake. Don’t worry, they have been abroad and made such mistakes themselves.

If you are in Germany for business purposes it might be sensible to do some extra research. If you are at a pub in Germany and you see a brass plaque on the table, don’t sit there!  The plaque marks the table as “Stammtisch.”  That means that table is where a regular group of drinkers sit.

Tables without the plaque, however, are meant to be shared, so have a seat and order a beer!