1. Be Late
Punctuality is vital in German offices. As a principle younger personnel or fresher personnel is eyed more closely than senior management, however, you will rather quickly find out, that most elder members of the management board will try their utmost to stick to appointments made. Not honoring the time agreed on, means disrespect to them. If you have to be late, the least thing you should do is to inform your counterpart of the delay.
2. Indulge in excessive breaks
Do never underestimate the gossip around when you come in in the morning (and how tired you look), how long you have been for lunch and the duration and number of your coffee breaks or smoking breaks. There will always be people who will closely monitor your coming and going, colleagues, you may not even know! And if they feel you earn a lot of money you can be sure they will talk. And talk will eventually reach your supers.
3. Ignore the ringing phone of your colleagues
If a phone rings and the proprietor of the same is nowhere to be seen, and neither is his or her direct colleague you take the call. Especially if you share your office with a couple of people not doing so will be seen as a sign of arrogance and avoidance of simple tasks.
4. Close your office door
Even if your colleagues on the same level as you close their doors, keep yours open unless it is necessary for confidentiality reasons. You will miss the opportunity to talk to your new colleagues, and you will be seen again as being arrogant.
5. Break into tears or make your frustration public
Germans usually strictly separate between work and personal life. We will be eyeing you with distanced curiosity as to how you can cry at your workplace over private matters. You should share some superficial aspects of your private life like you would in a small talk, but you are not expected to tell the story of your life. Likewise, if you are anxious over aspects of your work, don’t show too much. You are paid for being here, so shut up and do what you are paid for (or leave). Ignoring this will be seen as weakness.
6. Show open disrespect to other cultures
The German trauma of being the heir of people who murdered several million Jews is still enormously strong. Like in any country we also have a considerable right wing. However, anybody with education condemns a prejudicial judgment over other cultures.
7. Come unprepared
Join in a meeting without having done your part of the job will be seen as highly unprofessional. Germans tend to be very correct and stick to what has been agreed. If you had a brilliant idea between two meetings, you should not simply ignore the agreed idea and go for your new one. You will merely face utter non-understanding – a bad start for your brilliant idea.
8. Engage in long or numerous private talks
You are paid for being present in mind and body during office hours. Mostly for 8 hours a day. Even if you believe that private networking is a vital contributor to your success, your colleagues will not think so and will believe you are lazy. Likewise, avoid that your colleagues see you are active on facebook or google accounts and the like. In Germany, there is zero tolerance among peers for such frivolous activities.
9. Jump the gun
So you think you have a brilliant idea? You will not succeed in convincing your colleagues and superiors unless you have thoroughly analyzed the pros and cons and have already a rough idea about how to implement it. Germans are uneasy with uncertainty and ambiguity. Presenting a new idea with no factual background info will most likely kill it.
10. Beating the bush
If you don’t have to add something of value to a discussion, don’t add, especially, if the subject is not your core expertise. You are in the position you are because of your experience and so are all others. Adding pseudo-important comments will undermine your authority.