Although many German business people speak English, it’s a sign of courtesy and respect to make an attempt to use some German when communicating with your German business partner.
Follow these tips below to impress and build trust with your German business client.
What to call people in German
Formal address: Sie, not du
There are two ways to say “you” in German: the formal “Sie” and the informal “du.” You should always use “Sie” in business relationships, unless directed otherwise. This demonstrates how German people keep their personal lives separate from business. Remember that “du” is the equivalent of saying “hey you.”
Addressing people by name
Germans rarely use first names in business, even if they are followed by last names.
It may also be appropriate to address people with their professional titles. For example, if you are communicating with a male director of a business, you would say “Sehr geehrter Herr Direktor [last name].”
German business people value education and professional qualifications. Don’t be surprised if you see them on a business card or in an email signature.
The German education system is different than the US. Hochschule isn’t high school in Germany, but college. Hochschule is less research-oriented than Universität.
Considering German education is different from American education, you should not try to translate your qualifications to German.
German for emails
The opening line:
The opening line in a polite German email is “Sehr geehrte Frau [last name]” or Sehr geehrter Herr [last name], literally translating to “most respected Mrs. or Mr.” but it sounds less stuffy in German. Note the feminine and masculine endings: geehrte and geehrter. This is the most polite and widely used form of address and should be used when emailing for business in Germany. You end the address with a comma.
The next line:
It’s not usually not capitalized, unless you are using the pronoun “Sie” or a proper name (which are always capitalized).
Some useful phrases for the body of the email:
|I am writing on behalf of ...||Ich schreibe im Auftrag von ...|
|Please may I introduce myself ...||Darf ich mich vorstellen ...|
|In reference to our telephone call on ...||In Bezug auf unser Telefonat vom ...|
|I am sorry for any inconvenience caused.||Ich möchte mich fϋr eventuell verursachte Unannehmlichkeiten entschuldigen.|
|Please see attached ...||Im Anhang finden Sie ...|
|Please see enclosed ...||Anbei finden Sie ...
|I am emailing to ask ...||Ich schreibe bezϋglich ...|
|We are writing to enquire about ...||Wir möchten uns nach ... erkundingen.|
|I would appreciate your help on this subject.||Ich wϋrde Ihre Hilfe bezϋglich dieses Themas begrϋβen.|
|Can you please manage / deal with this?||Können Sie das bitte erledigen?|
|What is your postal address ...||Wie ist Ihre Anschrift?|
|My postal address is ...||Meine Anschrift ist ...|
|Thank you in advance.||Vielen Dank im Voraus.|
|Thank you for your cooperation.||Vielen Dank fϋr die gute Zusammenarbeit|
|Please let me know if you have any questions.||Sagen Sie mir bitte Bescheid, falls Sie Fragen haben.|
|I look forward to hearing from you soon.||Ich freue mich darauf, bald von Ihnen zu hören.|
Closing the email:
Typically formal and polite emails are closed with Mit freundlichen Grüßen (with friendly greetings). This line is followed by your signature on the next line with no comma in between.