9. Februar 2012

The method in German madness

I’ve come to realise that there are quite a few prejudices we as English speakers have towards Germans and their way of doing things. But after getting to know the German way a little better and experiencing it first hand, I’ve come to the new realisation that many of these prejudices are a result of not knowing why certain things are done in a certain way. The moment you get behind the ‘why’ their ‘way’ starts making a lot more sense.

In essence, it all boils down to two words: German efficiency. However, I think this term has become so over-used, often in a negative way, that it’s lost its meaning. We have this view of Germans that make them appear quite cold, simply functioning like machines or robots in a production line, much like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. But in actual fact, that’s incredibly far from their true character. Yes, Germans know how to work hard and how to get the job done. But there’s method behind the madness. The harder and quicker you work, the more you can play. And that’s exactly what they do. Germans are efficient, not to prove a point or because it’s all there is to their lives, but because it tends to make life a lot easier, and there’s more time for fun. So yes, when Germans are at work, they do their job really well and they’re incredibly focused. But as a result, they have more time for themselves. To prove my point, Germany is one of the countries with the most vacation days. And they certainly make good use of it.

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13. Dezember 2011

The season to be merry!

Adventskranz, JH

There are loads of countries around the world that celebrate Christmas. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s probably one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the year. Christmas in South Africa, for instance, is also quite special. But I’d say the fact that we’re in the middle of our summer during that time makes our Christmas slightly less traditional. Snow for instance, is a foreign concept altogether! Seriously. I saw snow for the first time in my life, last year. When I tell Germans this they think I’m joking. When they realise I’m being totally serious, a look of utter amusement appears on their faces. I have to agree though, snow definitely does add a special touch of magic to Christmas, but that’s only one part of the magic. There are many countries that are covered in snow during this time of year. Yet never in my life have I ever experienced Christmas, or even imagined it, the way I have since I’ve been living in Munich. The festive season literally takes on a life of its own.

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17. November 2011

A big fuss about small talk

I think small talk has been around as long as humans have. The only difference between centuries ago and now is that we’ve given it a name. But I can well imagine the kings of old having to entertain royalty from other countries, nervously trying to fill those uncomfortable silences with comments like, “So, what do you think about the weather?”… But today, I think it’s taken on an entirely different level of importance. I recently read that the success of a pitch depends largely on the first 5 to 10 minutes of the meeting. Guess what happens during these precious few minutes? Small talk! The article went on to say, that the moment the potential new client feels relaxed and comfortable in a conversation that flows seamlessly from the beginning, the more likely they are to sign on the dotted line at the end. However, this was an English article written by an American. And since I’ve been living and working in Germany, I’ve realized that over here, the dynamic of small talk is often somewhat different. So here are a couple of examples I’ve come across. I hope they shed some light on a few unexplained awkward moments.

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26. August 2011

To Siez or to Sitz

I’m a South African living and working in Munich, and I’ve recently joined the Fortis PR team on a freelance basis. This is my first stint in a German PR company, and I’m finding it fascinating! There are so many differences between the ways English speaking countries do PR and communication, opposed to the way it’s done in Germany. Yet at the same time, there are so many surprising similarities. So for those of you who have to deal with this phenomenon, my chatter is especially for you. That means that you’re welcome to join in! Whether you agree, disagree, or have some stories of your own.

And because I find the PR industry in itself quite riviting, I’m also going to be chatting about new PR trends, developments and whatever I come across on my escapades that might interest you.

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