Unsolicited Advice

German Approach

Unsolicited means not requested. Germans give unsolicited advice. Usually it is criticism. However, in most cases the critique is accurate and helpful. In some cases Germans simply want to show that they know better. Mostly Germans give unsolicited advice because they sincerely want to be helpful. And they are.

Patterns

American Approach

Americans seldom give unsolicited advice. Even among family and close friends they give advice only after having been asked. And even then, depending on how sensitive the topic is, they communicate their advice in carefully worded language. Americans also want to be helpful. But first you need to maintain the relationship.

Patterns

German View

From the German perspective, Americans seem to be irritated and insulted rather quickly. They have difficulty accepting helpful advice. Americans can come across as stubborn and proud, not open to other perspectives.

American View

Unsolicited advice from Germans – or from anyone – can come across to Americans as arrogant, presumptious, and even personally insulting. They think to themselves: „Who asked you for your opinion?“ Unsolicited advice can easily and quickly damage the working relationship.

Advice to Germans

Be very careful when giving advice to Americans. Unsolicited advice can be perceived as a direct challenge to their personal freedom. Instead, look for opportunities to indirectly approach the subject. Observe how the other person reacts. Approximate your way closer to the subject. See it as an iterative process. 

Advice to Americans

Be prepared to get unsolicited advice from German colleagues. Don’t feel insulted. Focus on the substance. Assume that they have your best interests in mind. In most cases you are getting first-rate advice. And at no cost. You have someone, even several people, „watching your back.“

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