Collecting ideas and material for my book, I thought it would be nice to also include some “outsiders’” perspectives and stories. To find out what others find typical (or exceptional) about Germany, I asked people in my network—that is, mostly international business people or Germans who travel frequently or have been working abroad for at least sometime—questions like “How can you make a German happy?” or “What do you struggle with when it comes to what Germans think is normal?”
The answers were overall very much in line with what I had expected (e.g., hinting at certain cultural dimensions or cultural standards that have been discussed extensively in other works); however, some aspects of (mainstream) Germans’ “code of conduct” for me now appear in new, or at least clearer, light.
[However, one of the challenges I was faced with was the question of how to “translate” certain terms (or concepts). Like, much-traveled consultant] Alexander Wurz recommended that I should, when talking about presentations, also mention the relevance of the untranslatable German word “nachvollziehen.”
The term means a lot more than just “understanding” (what you are saying). Your (German) audience should always be able to “nachvollziehen” your line of thought, that is, comprehend where you are coming from and how you reached your conclusion(s)—what data you are relating to, what thoughts you had, maybe what pros and cons you weighed, which sources you used, what the (possible) consequences are (e.g., of implementing a solution)—so that the listeners can integrate/bring your idea in line with what they already know / their world view / their specific challenges. Be prepared to be asked how you reached your conclusion/solution, and don’t respond to the question with a “Why are you bothered? Just be happy it works!” attitude.