Germans will avoid an open hearing at almost all costs. The airing of grievances ﹣ argument vs. counter-argument in front of the next level of management﹣only increases tension, making resolution more difficult. Instead, the conflict resolver interviews each party separately and on a one-on-one basis.
Americans expect a fair hearing. The process of justice begins when the conflict parties, in the presence of each other, make their case before the judge. In the American culture self-defense is only possible when one knows what the other side is accusing them of. A hearing almost always takes place.
Germans see American hearings as unprofessional, antagonistic and counterproductive. A hearing pits colleague against colleague, in competition with each other, in an open forum. A hearing only adds oil to the fire.
The absence of a hearing is viewed by Americans as a loss of the fundamental right to self-defense. The German approach of separate interviews is considered ineffective, secretive, and fundamentally unjust.
Advice to Germans
If you have an American boss and you are in conflict with an American colleague be prepared for your hearing. It will come sooner than you think. If you lead Americans, and a conflict has been escalated to you, they will expect you to hold some kind of a hearing. Do it. And quickly.
Advice to Americans
If you lead Germans, and a conflict is finally brought to your level, do not hold a hearing. Talk to the conflict parties separately. Prevent any kind of direct dueling among the conflict parties in your presence.
If you have a German manager, you will most likely not get an American-style day in court. Your German team lead as judge will speak with you individually. You won‘t know the case made by the colleague with whom you are in conflict.