Are the Japanese really courteous, conciliatory, and group-oriented, whereas Germans are direct, adversative, and individual? With reference to the linguistic phenomenon of the directive, the study closely examines these much-rehearsed stereotypes. With a consistently contrastive approach based on an empirical survey, systematic differences and overlaps in the pragmalinguistics of directives are established for German and Japanese. The study describes the extent to which factors like social field of interaction, age, gender, social norms and values, etc. have a significantly different bearing on directive usage behavior in the two language communities.