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Why German Speakers Should Live & Work Abroad at Least Once - Guest Blog

2016-11-21 08:00:00 +0000 by Kellie-Anne Molloy


Clichés and stereotypes exist about every nationality – in other countries, German speakers are known for being result driven, reliable and always on time, which are not bad characteristics at all. Nevertheless, concerning social contacts, German Speakers are often more rigid and stiff than other nationalities.

Germans who spend a longer period of time abroad (more than a holiday abroad) have good possibilities to adapt to the positive manners of other nations – especially when it comes to working abroad. Germans who have already gained the experience of working abroad often recognized that people from other nations are much more sociable and easy-going. Adapting to those characteristics can have several positive effects on your job search back in Germany once your return. 

  • Small Talk is not useless – it can help you to build valuable contacts

Internationally seen, small talk is highly welcomed and widely used in several countries, it can be seen as a major element in the daily life –  especially when it comes to working abroad.

German speakers are simply not familiar with small talk and can be seen to struggle a bit. Adding to the greeting a short “how are you?” is essential in numerous countries in the world. Especially, when you talk to a person you just met or have only seen a few times, the question “how are you?” doesn’t mean you need to give a detailed account of how you are – people are simply being polite. When it comes to working abroad and you are asked ‘’how you are’’ simply keep your answers short and sweet or you could be looking at a rather confused individual – ‘’All good’’, ‘’fine’’ and ‘’all right and you?’’ are all good answers to give. ‘’How are you?’’ in English may be a direct translation from ‘’Wie geht es dir?’’ in German but the two questions have very different meanings.

  • After work parties strengthen business relations

In Germany, it is quite common to separate work and private life. After work, German speakers like to dedicate their full attention to their private life. The only exceptions are the yearly Christmas Celebrations and the odd work anniversary.

In other countries work and private can sometimes mix – when working abroad it is quite common to have work colleagues play an important role in your private life – it’s a common thing to spend time with your colleagues and superiors outside of work. In order to adjust easier and build your network abroad, it is good to remember that work and private life are not 100% separated.

  • Start improvising if things don’t happen as scheduled

German speakers like to focus on sticking to their timetables and it's important that all tasks are carried out without issues.

To ensure all goes well, everything is planned in detail to avoid any unexpected struggles. If some incidents do occur, German speakers tend to lose some control ever so slightly. When it comes to working abroad for German Speakers you will need to try and rid yourself of this attitude, if not you will become stressed and burn out quickly.

Things may go awry when you work abroad and people find ways to work around them, they have learned to improvise and find the best solution for any hiccups. German speakers need to be prepared for situations such as this – when a German speaker spends more time working abroad they are more relaxed and creative in finding solutions to certain issues. If and/or when you return to Germany, many employers consider this characteristic as essential and are more than happy to hire you. 

  • Different Management Styles 

Due to the increased number of start-up companies over the last number of years -  a more casual way of communicating between employers and employees has emerged. Even in Germany, this change can be seen - the impersonal ''Sie'' has ben mostly replaced by the still respectful ''Du''. 

It can be unfortunate to see that younger employees struggle to show their respect to their superiors due to this development - but this trend doesn't have to be negative. 

When it comes to working in Germany, a more decentralized management style can be found in small and medium-sized companies. This includes more responsibilities and employees are not obligated to discuss every single detail with the management. In France and England for example, a more centralized management style is common practice, which means that all the decisions are only made by the higher management and ideas can’t be implemented immediately. Germans who make the experience of working abroad for the first time, recognize the differences in the relationships of the employees and their superiors quickly. The management style is a pure matter of taste but it can be a great experience for every German to get an insight into the management styles and decision making of other countries. 

  • Increasing intercultural competences  

Many German Speakers have the opinion that their way is the only correct way and have some difficulties accepting others. Due to the increase in globalization, we are all confronted with various cultures in our daily life. In Germany - German speakers expect expats to adapt quickly but don't like the idea of having to adapt to others when they are working abroad. The best advice for situations like this is to stay open-minded from the beginning - doing so helps you to broaden your personal horizon immensely and when you consider returning to Germany, you will bring valuable experiences. Former expats tend to be more open towards different cultural groups and show more understanding. The multicultural competencies of Germans increased greatly while living and working abroad. 

In general, living & working abroad for a longer period of time can sharpen the senses of German speakers and give several advantages for self-development and you are seen as a highly sought after asset back in Germany for employers. 

Auslandskarriere is an online magazine for expats, Germans who are already abroad and people who fancy living and working abroad in other countries. Auslandskarriere belongs to the language network Englische Karrieremanufaktur and Fachübersetzer.Net. 

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