German Approach

Germans feel uncomfortable not only with resolutions dictated from above, but also with those which result in a clear winner and loser. Germans believe that a resolution is effective and durable only if the parties involved freely accept it. Losers seldom freely accept the outcome.


American Approach

Americans escalate disputes. They expect an authority-driven resolution process. A true and lasting resolution is attainable only when a clear decision is made. Americans have less of a problem with one party winning and the other losing. „You win some, you lose some.“ Just move on.


German View

In the German culture labeling of one side as the loser breeds shame, anger, animosity. The loser will seek to undermine the judgement made. The conflict is not or not fully resolved. It festers. The team suffers.

American View

German management is easily misperceived as unwilling or incapable of making the tough judgement calls. From the American perspective a resolution in which all parties are winners, is not a decision. The conflict is not resolved. It festers. The team suffers.

Advice to Germans

You lead Americans. Make a decision. It may not involve a compromise, but instead a clear winner and loser. As long as your decision, and the process it was based on, is fair, the loser will not feel lost.

You‘re a German with an American boss. If you win the conflict, do not gloat. The next decision could go against you. When that happens, you have not lost face. Do not fear being labeled a loser for life. Conflicts of interest are commonplace. Accept the decision and move on.

Advice to Americans

You lead Germans. You have arrived at a decision. Even if there is a clear winner and lose, think carefully about how you will communicate it. Prevent any kind of triumphalism on the part of the winner. Soften the blow for the loser. The conflict is not resolved by the decision alone. How it is communicated influences whether it is accepted and supported. 

Your German manager assisted in a resolution in your favor. Fine. Make peace with your opponent. Help him to save face. No triumphalism. It didn‘t go in your favor? Make peace with your opponent. Help her to help you to save face. At the same time, don‘t accept any triumphalism.