Yesterday I picked on German rudeness and related a couple of humorous encounters I’ve had in this department. However, I don’t want to leave it at that because: A) most of the Germans I know well are loyal, kind and helpful (if a bit outspoken); and B) rudeness can be refreshing. So now I want to share the other side of the story: why I came to Germany in the first place.
Back when I was fresh out of graduate school I landed a job as manager of a small software development team. I was pretty green, focused on results rather than building alliances with other managers. I said what I thought to everyone and while a few people liked this about me, I offended many more.
To me, fresh out of school and over my head with heavy responsibilities, small talk translated into wasted time. I had a big job to do. So I neglected to ask about people’s weekends and steamrollered over ideas I didn’t like. My team got the job done but I didn’t make any lifelong friends among the other team leads.
Let me just say here that these days catching up with colleagues is a big highlight for me because I have a lot more confidence in my work (which translates into precious time) and I love the people I work with. But back then I was too outspoken and focused on the task at hand to make friends.
So, there I was, offending someone at every meeting and plowing doggedly toward meeting my own team’s goals. And then the Germans came to town. They were tall. They were outspoken. They were superior engineers. We ended up on the same project, designing a new kind of compensation solution, and it was amazing. They were rude when they disagreed with me and I was rude back. White board pens were flung and ancestors were insulted. And when the dust cleared we made a decision and went out for a beer. No hard feelings.
It was like coming home. I fell in love with the Germans and even married one of them. Now I live here and frequently miss the kinder, gentler American style but never forget that I once moved here to escape it.
So I will continue to make fun of German rudeness where it crops up but don’t let me fool you – I secretly dig it.