German praise is often communicated by a simple nod of the head or a gut gemacht, „well done.“ Too much praise can be seen by both parties as exaggerated, not objective, emotional, not to be taken seriously. In Germany it is important to auf dem Teppich bleiben, literally to keep your feet on the carpet. Exaggerated praise can easily be interpreted as sarcasm.
In Germany, praise in the presence of other colleagues is even more seldom, and is a sign of truly exceptional performance. But even in that context the Germans distinguish between excellent and exceptional work. Praise should always be closely in line with actual performance.
At his retirement ceremony the president of a prestigious German-European research institution was praised with the words: „He is a kind, humble person, who led others based on fairness and objective standards, and who from time to time had valuable scientific breakthroughs. He never sought the spotlight.“ His „valuable publications“ were also praised. The speaker said at the end „You have done a good job!“