Culture & Communication

I tailor communication to the respective culture. How and why?

What does culture have to do with communication?

Culture arises from communication and vice versa. Every culture is unique. Hence, the way people communicate varies. How much emotion can or should you show? How formal or informal is the interaction between people? How detailed is information expected to be?

Do you say it like it is or in a roundabout way? In these and many other aspects communication styles differs across cultures.

I adapt your communication to the German and American culture, taking the differences into account.

Deductive oder inductive?

Americans prefer an inductive presentation style—the presentation starts with the main point and goes from specific points and examples to general conclusions. Let’s say you’re discussing a particular problem in your presentation. You would start out with concrete examples of how this problem shows up; then possibly briefly touch on studies, research methods, and theories; arrive at a conclusion; and put focus on solutions to the problem.

If you use this approach with your German audience, your presentation will likely come across superficial, not well-founded and, as a result, earn skepticism rather than respect. Germans prefer a deductive presentation style. Here, you would start out by

defining the general problem; then lay out and elaborate on research methods and theories; and toward the end briefly offer concrete examples of how this problem shows up and touch on possible solutions.

A presentation should therefore not just be translated into another language but should rather be adapted to the preferred presentation style of the respective culture.

I advise you on aspects such as length; structure; comprehensiveness, order of the individual talking points as well as tone—for a successful presentation.

Keep it down, please!

Emotions are communicated with more restraint in German compared to American culture. This difference is important in marketing.

If marketing texts are simply translated into German, the wording

may sound exaggerated or even shady to a German. Vice versa, the literal translation of German marketing into English may lack enthusiasm and persuasiveness by American standards.

I transcreate your marketing text, shifting up or down a gear.

A matter of formality

In Germany, communication is oftentimes more formal than in the U.S. For example, it’s not as common to address each other by first name right away and share personal information quickly. When correpsonding with customers, business partners, and colleagues or “higher ranking” employees, a more formal tone than is common in

the U.S. may be advisable.

Depending on the recipient and situation, I can assess how formal or informal the tone of your communication should be.

How direct is too direct?

In some cultures, information and opinions are communicated very directly, using so called upgraders—words such as “totally,” “completely,” “absolutely” to emphasize what’s being said. Germans on average communicate very directly and with upgraders.

Vice versa, some cultures communicate indirectly and use downgraders—words such as “a bit,” “somewhat,” “not so much.” Sometimes a situation, opinion, or feeling is downplayed—”We are not quite there yet” may in reality mean “We just barely got started.“

Americans typically word less directly than Germans. The direct and assertive German communication style is oftentimes perceived as harsh or even offensive by Americans.

By contrast, Germans oftentimes don’t understand what an American is really saying. Wording for a German audience should therefore be more direct and clear.

I reword your text so that your message doesn’t get lost in translation.