Dynamic business culture: the UK vs. Germany vs. the Nordics
The nations of Northern Europe have much in common; large, powerful economies, liberal and social democracies, open minds and forward-thinking attitudes.
When it comes to business, however, there are some huge differences in culture that are important to understand. Research conducted by Richard D. Lewis, a British linguist and communications expert, highlights some of the key elements of negotiation style country by country:
On the whole, the German business approach is extremely straightforward, direct and logical. Both parties are expected to do their due diligence before a negotiation, amassing evidence and clarifying their points prior to any debate. Germans like to work through problems by realistic examinations of facts before working towards cautious, yet firm and pragmatic agreements.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The Brits and the Irish have a penchant for understated, excessively polite and occasionally humorous negotiation tactics that can often leave their more direct business partners at a loss. This style can either be extremely effective or completely fail to meet it’s objectives, depending on how it’s deployed. However, similar to the other countries of Northern Europe, Brits value clarity, punctuality and an understanding of the facts and technical details of the situation – they might just take longer to directly state their goals.
Mr. Lewis identified the Swedes’ discussion techniques as amongst the most holistic and wide-ranging in Northern Europe, often bringing in points which might otherwise be glossed over. Following an open discussion, negotiations will tend to be simple and clear. The Nordic nations value a direct approach towards language, and Sweden is no exception.
Denmark appears to have adopted a blend of styles, a combination that has proved particularly effective in business negotiations. Danes are meticulous about evidence similar to the approach taken by many Germans. At the same time they take broad consideration of the evidence like their neighbours, the Swedes. They mix this with a tendency to talk around, or avoid if you prefer, certain sensitive points like the Brits. There have been several high profile business cases proving the Danish negotiation approach in recent years.
Of course, these are generalisations and not a description of how every nation will operate. However, thinking about how cultural differences might affect your negotiation tactics can be a powerful tool for understanding the current economic and political landscape of Europe.
Goodwille work with helping companies from the Nordic and Germanic region enter into the UK market. With 20 years of experience bridging the gap between our clients’ home market and the UK, we can help your businesses with the transition into the UK to ensure a smooth entry. If you are thinking about expanding your business to the UK, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.