“Your thinking is naíve and superficial.”
Was it a slug to the jaw or pat on the back? Too tired and too unprofessional to control myself, I snapped back that he was the one who has it wrong. „And what‘s more, your thinking is naíve and superficial.“
Now, for those who have little or no experience with Germans, you can‘t hit back much harder at a German than to say those kinds of things. It goes to the heart of their self-understanding.
Tired and unprofessional, yes, but unfamiliar with Germans, no. They like to rough it up intellectually, mentally, with ideas. Often on purpose just to test the other person. Again, we had just met. My beer, or was it juice, hadn‘t even arrived at the table.
No small talk. No pleasantries. No „how is the training going?“ His organization would shell out a large amount of Euros to me in that first year, and here I was slapping the guy right back.
He ate it up. I did, too. We debated with each other for well over two and a half hours. It went on to be the beginning of a four-year engagement, and an inspiring four-year conversation.
But wait, in our very first meeting, in the very first minutes, we basically said to each other: „You got it wrong.“ Shouldn‘t that have killed my consulting engagement, killed the business relationship?
It did not kill the business relationship. In fact, it strengthened it. How so? What is the German logic operating here?