My Goal - Better Communication in International Business

5 minute read

In the digital age you need #Simple.

It’s hard enough to get your customers or coworkers attention in today’s digital world. And when you’ve got it, you’d better make sure you don’t waste their time.

#Simple is essential for you if you work with people from different countries and you all use English as a common language.

When you’re communicating across language barriers, #Simple messages are easier for non-native speakers to understand. #Simple helps you avoid misunderstandings.

#Simple is goal oriented.

When you focus on the most important part of your message, people clearly understand your priorities – and what you want them to do.

Technology has transformed the way businesses communicate and raised customer expectations. Customers – even business customers – want more intense relationships with the companies they buy from. They expect quick responses and demand information in different formats, like videos.

But though customers around the world have similar expectations, there are big cultural differences in how businesses approach communication. And in this blog, I focus on the challenges – and joys – of international communication.

My area of expertise is the communication differences between German and US businesses. But don’t stop reading if you’re not German or American! My articles and tips apply to most - if not all – types of international business communication.

My name is Stephanie Hammer; I have worked with international companies for 20 years. I’ve lived, studied and or worked in four different countries. I’m an American and this is my 19th year working for German companies, my 6th year living and working in Germany – and the ultimate test of international communication, my 14th year of marriage to a wonderful German man named Thomas.

I started this blog because German and US companies communicate differently. And if you know what those differences are, you can figure out how to use them to your advantage. 

You may say, “Who cares?” German companies should. They should care very much. Because according to the German Statistisches Bundesamt, the US is Germany’s #1 foreign trading partner. Germany exported goods worth 114 Billion EUR to the US in 2015[1]. We US-Americans are your most important customer.

Larger German companies are on par with their US counterparts. But Germany’s so-called hidden champions, the small and medium enterprises that power the Germany economy, would benefit from not only a greater understanding of our communication differences but practical tips how to use these differences to their advantage.

Generally, German companies don’t communicate in a way that instantly appeals to US Americans. And while Germany’s more cautious approach may be warranted, a gap is widening between our two business communication styles.

We US-Americans are culturally programmed to value short, on-point messages, infographics and videos – even humor. When German companies communicate with text-heavy publications, lengthy presentations and crowded PowerPoint slides, we US-Americans tend to tune out.

That’s wasted opportunity. Even worse, the differences between the way we communicate can lead to misunderstanding which, depending on how bad it is, can damage essential business relationships.

If you change the way that you communicate in order to appeal to the expectations of your US audience (managers, colleagues, employees or US customers), your outcomes will improve.

After all, your success (in sales, joint projects, promotions, etc.) depends in large part on how well you communicate with each other. It’s not enough that you understand each other’s words. You want your audience to buy into your message. Because at the end of the day, you want them to DO something – buy your product, fund your project, share information, etc.

Happy reading – and watching! I’d love to hear your feedback on Twitter @

[1] Foreign Trade: Ranking of Germany's Trading Partners in Foreign Trade 2015." Statistisches Bundesamt, 19 July 2016. Web. 27 July 2016. <>.


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© / Hanquan Chen