The British: A User’s Manual

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Interculturalists like Geert Hofstede tell us that Germany and the United Kingdom share identical points for cultural dimensions such as Power Distance (35) and Masculinity (66), but show widely divergent figures for Individualism and Uncertainty Avoidance. Essentially, the British are more individualistic (89) than the Germans (67), resulting in one English businessman’s comment to me that “In Germany everything is either forbidden or compulsory.” Tip: don’t cramp their style. The British are more risk-friendly, with a much lower score (35) for Uncertainty Avoidance than the sicher-ist-sicher guys back home (65). Tip: when you’re presenting new concepts, sell them as flexible rather than total. Conversations also take a widely different form in the UK, with abstract thought and sincere opinion sacrificed for wit and repartee. Yield your turn, don’t bulldoze over that verbal interruption. If at all possible, make it look as if being German is a bit of a laugh, and be ready to feed that curiosity the British still possess for a certain 12-year phase of recent German history.

Read more: Brits and Germans 

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