German Approach

Germans often give unsolicited advice. Usually it comes in the form of criticism. In most cases the statement is accurate, the advice helpful. In some, however, individual Germans simply want to show that they know better. The majority of Germans, however, give unsolicited advice because they sincerely want to help.

American Approach

Americans rarely give unsolicited advice. Even among family and close friends Americans 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.

German View

From the German perspective, Americans seem to be irritated and insulted rather quickly. They have difficulty accepting helpful advice, which can be interpreted as arrogance.

American View

Unsolicited advice from Germans can come across to Americans as arrogant, presumptious and personally insulting. They think to themselves: "Who asked you for your opinion?" It can damage the working relationship.

Advice to Germans

Be very careful when giving advice to Americans without having been asked. Unsolicited advice, which typically is negative, can be highly insulting to Americans. It can be perceived as a direct challenge to their understanding of their personal freedom.

Look for opportunities to indirectly approach the subject. Observe how the other person reacts. Approximate your way closer to the subject. This is an iterative process.

Advice to Americans

Be ready to get unsolicited advice from your German colleagues. Do your best not to be insulted or angy. Listen carefully to the substance of the advice. Pay less attention to the personal part of the relationship.

Operate on the assumption that your German colleague has your best interests in mind. You will then realize that you are getting first-rate advice and at no cost to you. In fact, you‘ll see that you have someone - or even several people - „watching your back.“