A popular saying goes: “was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr;” this translates literally to “What (little) Hänschen doesn’t learn, (grown-up) Hans never learns either,” meaning that whatever (habits) you don’t learn as a kid, you will never be able to understand/ adopt.
The connotation is rather patronizing, does not target grown-ups like the “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” saying does, and is not as harsh as “A tree must be bent while it is young.” The Hänschen quote is often used in the context of “proper behavior.”
If Hänschen doesn’t learn to say “please” and “thank you” (on every possible occasion), he will never learn. “What is the word?!” (Wie heißt das Wort?!), parents would remind Hänschen or Gretchen, when he or she requests something. “Bitte” (please) is the proper answer. “How do you say?!” (Wie sagt man?!), the parent would add, if Gretchen forgot to say, “Thank you!” In Germany, a smile or an approving gesture is generally not considered an adequate reply to express gratitude or thankfulness; if you do not utter a “Dankeschön,” you might be considered unappreciative or ill-mannered.
How may I help you?
You want to develop your business in Germany? Then you may also face some very common pitfalls; the good news is that they can be quite easily avoided! You should hire me if you want to gain a better understanding of your opportunities, and you value a local’s help in finding buyers and potential business partners. Learn more about some past projects and what I can do for you: You’ll make it in Germany!
You are (only) interested in learning more about Germany?
Above are snippets from my new book. You want to learn more about Germany? Then try to grab a copy of Doing Business in Germany : A Concise Guide to Understanding Germans and Their Business Practices. Either ask your bookseller to order a copy for you (might take a few days, though), or look out for it on amazon.