Germans strive to separate substance from person. They can argue vehemently and still respect each other, even remain close friends. This allows them to pay less attention to the specific context of the interaction.
It is relatively unimportant whether they are communicating with their neighbor in front of their house, an acquaintance in the streetcar, a relative on the phone or a colleague at their workplace. A discussion about a topic of substance has little to do with the person individually.
The ability to separate substance from person is in the German business context among the fundamental abilities expected not only of employees, but especially of those who lead them – management. The self-understanding of the German citizen includes – consciously or unconsciously – the obligation to argue a point, to address a problem, to state an opinion objectively, critically, fairly.