Do Germans make small talk?
Are Germans less polite than English native speakers? Are we more deceitful than Germans? Are we friendlier? Are Germans more punctual? When I came to live in Germany first, I was often flabbergasted by the directness of Germans. And there are Germans who get really annoyed when native English speakers, in an effort to appear friendly, say things they don't really mean. Some Germans might call this "lying". Phrases like, “How wonderful to see you again! How‟s your beautiful wife keeping?, often seem rather insincere to Germans.
According to Professor Julianne House, of the University of Hamburg, Germans really don't make small talk. Those little phrases so familiar to us native English speakers about the weather or enquiring about a person's general well-being are practically non-existent in Germany. Interestingly, the German language does not have an expression for „small talk‟. Both the British and Americans appear to understand the fine art of how to start a conversation by relying on small talk to stimulate a conversation and to make the other person feel at ease. So what do Germans talk about at the Doctor's? Or going up the ski lift? How do they start a conversation? Or do they just get down to business immediately? Many Britons might find Germans blunt with their directness but on the other hand, the British lack of directness might be frustrating when doing business with them, which was often the case when BMW took over Rover as a lot of problems were played down. Phrases like “There are a few minor issues to be clarified” should in fact be taken seriously. There are some who would argue that Germans are more reliable and more punctual than other nationalities, which is also a form of politeness.
Small talk has become more and more important in business as it enables partners to build trust and establish rapport.