Auskunftspflicht vs. caveat emptor

caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware

When persuading, Americans do not feel obligated to offer full and comprehensive information about the weaknesses of their proposal, concept, product or solution. Instead, the obligation is with the buyer (the audience) to expose the weaknesses through critical questions. If asked, competent, professional and honest Americans will respond forthrightly.

Are Americans less honest than others? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Who can judge? Not our topic.

This is a shared logic among Americans. Listeners know to ask the critical questions. Speakers know to anticipate those questions. If the critical questions are not asked, if the listener then accepts (buys), only later to discover negative aspects, the listener (buyer) will not blame the speaker (seller), but himself.

Besides, who wants to admit to their colleagues or boss, to their spouse or friends, that they made a poor decision?

Auskunftspflicht. Auskunft, information. Pflicht, obligation.

When persuading (presenting, informing, describing), the Germans believe that they have an obligation to present all of the facts. The good and the bad. What works, what doesn’t work.

They do not believe that they should wait until critical questions are raised, exposing the negative or downside of what they are presenting or proposing. Competent, professional and honest are those who forthrightly reveal the less positive.

Are Germans more honest than others? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Who can judge? Not our topic.

If you are presenting to Germans, and they find that you have not forthrightly addressed serious weaknesses in your argument, proposal, concept, solution, they can draw one of two possible conclusions. Either you are not fully competent. You did not identify and address those weaknesses. Or you are well aware of them, do not have a solution, and have therefore attempted to hide, ignore or avoid the discussion about them.

Neither conclusion reflects positively on that presenter. The German audience is not persuaded. Worse, the presenter has lost credibility. Germans have a shared logic. The presenter should address both the positive and the negative.