Teacher’s guide

Case 07: Waiting in Frankfurt, Discussion

1. Coming from a polychronic Southeast Asian culture, Ahmed Hisham was apparently unaware that Germans tend to be the most time-conscious of all monochronic people, which means they expect strict punctuality. He should have arranged for his own wakeup call in the morning, whether with travel alarm or mobile phone, rather than depend on a hotel employee. And he should have found out the travel time to Dr. Schmidt’s office and arranged to leave by taxi with plenty of time to spare: rush-hour traffic can cause delays.

2. The visitor probably misunderstood Dr. Schmidt’s unsmiling facial expression and abrupt language as impolite. Malaysians are used to warm, friendly greetings, whereas many Germans tend to reserve smiles for family, friends and social occasions. Secondly, relationship-focused Malaysians do not maintain a rigid separation between work life and personal life. Ahmed Hisham most likely works Saturdays (Friday is a holiday in Muslim countries) and would expect to meet on a Saturday or Sunday if Dr. Schmidt were to visit Kuala Lumpur. Had the Malaysian done his homework, he would have known that most Germans reserve weekends for the family, hobbies and other personal interests.