“Our German colleagues are very direct in their communication. They often simply state: ‘It cannot be done. You cannot get the materials, because you did not forecast right.’
We Americans perceive it as “You are stupid.” Our reaction is pindrop silence. And, Germans will also raise their voices. Americans then back off.
How should we respond?”
It is true, we Americans can find Germans to be brutally direct. Let me make the case, however, that their directness is actually a positive character trait, despite the pain we feel when experiencing it.
Germans are direct. They say what they mean and mean what they say. Germans do not use euphemisms to soften a message. Nor do they “beat around the bush.” For Germans direct communication is honest, transparent, efficient. In their view, it reduces the risk of people not understanding each other.
Americans approach important topics carefully. Euphemisms help communicate uncomfortable messages. Depending on the topic’s sensitivity, they will address it indirectly. In the American context, indirect communication is considered both polite and effective. It maintains the dialogue in order to then deepen it.