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Cultural differences between Germany and Britain

By Hilary Picken | March 22, 2019 | Doing Business Abroad

Cultural differences between Germany and Britain

We love reading the daily tweets by so very British, as they seem to strike a chord with me every time. With 824,235 followers, it appears that other people feel the same way as me too.

Their tweets all come under the hash tag #VeryBritishProblems, and give a typical phrase that a British person might say, along with its perceived translation.

For example: Fancy a quick half? = Fancy going to the pub for as long as possible?

From reading these, it appears that there is a well documented stereotype that British people tend to say one thing and mean something completely different! As a result, I began thinking about whether German people have common stereotypes too and whether we share any common traits.

There has actually been a considerable amount of research done on the cultural differences between the British and Germans. We’ve listed the most common differences below from both the British and German perspective.

Common German stereotypes

Common British stereotypes

German people are direct/abrupt British people are polite and take a long time to get to the point
Germans have a hard exterior Brits are very open and welcoming
Germans aren’t very good at small talk Overzealous British small talk can lead others to question how genuine they are
Germans are perfectionists and want to get things right with everything they undertake The British are quick-witted
Germans are efficient The British can be devious


Other differences between our cultures

A study on sleep patterns has shown that Britons sleep an average of eight minutes longer than Germans and spend an extra five minutes in bed, whereas Germans rise straight away and get on with their days. This could be a reason (coupled with their efficient nature), why German people are always faster at setting down their towels next to the pool whilst they’re on holiday! 


Does one nation communicate better than another?

We certainly cannot say that either country has superior communication skills as each is completely unique, has its own rules and patterns of behaviour that are neither right nor wrong. Every country has wonderful differences between them as a result of their unique histories, politics and culture. I’ve listed a few facts about both countries below that I hope might be new and interesting to you.


Interesting facts about German culture

  • Germans are the second largest beer consumers in the world, after the Irish.
  • The most popular German surname (Nachname) is Müller. 
  • There are 35 dialects of the German language.
  • 65% of the Autobahn (highway) has no speed limit.
  • JFK saying “Ich bin ein Berliner,” (‘I am a jelly doughnut’), rather than ‘I am a citizen of Berlin’ seems to be an urban myth. Many German people say it would have sounded odd if Kennedy had have said ‘Ich bin Berliner’ in his speech, as he had an American accent and wasn’t from Berlin. Instead, what he said, was spot on and translated as ‘I am one with the people of Berlin’.


Interesting facts about British culture

  • The British drink more tea than anywhere else in the world.
  • Chickens outnumber humans in Britain.
  • There are over 30,000 people with the name ‘John Smith’ in Britain.
  • Britain has the highest rate of obesity in Europe.
  • Britain brought the world soccer, rugby and polo.