Apparently, socialising with us Germans is different from socialising with other people. Instead of superficial, meaningless pleasantries we actually give you a piece of our mind if you ask for it. I have been received with bewilderment, if not silent judgement because I told things as they are instead of sugarcoating it. Admittedly, I might not be the most diplomatic person on the planet.
But still. I think, a little instruction on how to socialise with Germans is needed for all our esteemed visitors from abroad. Here’s what I gathered.
Don’t ask a German how they are – because they will tell you
Someone told me this as a joke, but I think it couldn’t be more true. Every time I ask somebody from abroad how they are, I receive a quickly muttered “Fine, and you.” No question mark. If I tell them anyway, sometimes you can see the horror in their eyes, oh no, she answers, that means I have to make a conversation now!
I have learned my lesson and I try not to reveal my thoughts anymore when I’m abroad. In Germany, though, dear foreigners, be prepared and be careful what you ask (for).
Smalltalk is inefficient – get to the point
The infamous German straightforwardness has destroyed quite a few small talk attempts. We simply don’t see why we should waste both your and our time with exchanging pleasantries about the weather, our equally boring weekends or anything else that doesn’t get us what we want. So cut to the chase – if you want something, ask for it. I, in return, will endure as many inefficient conversations as you want when I’m abroad.
If you really have to pass some time until for example a meeting starts, you better find a topic where your conversation partner has something to contribute to. Us Germans are terrible small talkers, so do us a favour and stick to the following topics: football, the weather, complaining about football or the weather. That’s it, thank you.
In Germany, women and men can be friends
Another thing that provokes utter amazement in my non-German friends is the fact that friendships between the different genders are considered completely normal and non-sexual at all. Of course, sometimes one party wants more than the other, but in general, nobody will consider it as sleazy if you and your new acquaintance hang out without aiming for sex.
Beer is a universally accepted currency
If you’re invited somewhere, bring some beer. If you want to introduce yourself at your new workplace, forget about doughnuts (good luck finding any over here, anyway) – a case of delicious hops juice will open the hearts of your colleagues just as well. If you meet the father of your new girlfriend – you better bring some beer to smooth him over. You catch my drift? Bring beer!
Do: Bring beer.