German Approach

For Germans a core competence is the ability to identify, analyze and solve complex problems. Germans focus on problems.

American Approach

For Americans a core competence is the ability to identify opportunities in complex problems. Americans focus on opportunities.

German View

Interpreting a problem as an opportunity and acting too quickly signals to Germans an inability to recognize the seriousness of the situation and its dangers. Americans can appear naive.

American View

The German focus on the weak points is perceived by Americans as consciously seeking out problems, instead of searching for the positive. They are viewed as pessimistic, negative, even destructive.

Advice to Germans

Remain problem-oriented. It is a German strength. But choose different, softer, less direct words. Americans are quite capable of discerning between serious and less serious problems.

Establish more balance between your German problem-orientation and American optimism. Not all problems have to be addressed or even solved in order to move forward.

Advice to Americans

Reduce your natural American optimism. Show more attention to the potential down-side of a given situation. Acknowledge the problems as they are. Address them directly and openly.

Not all problems are so-called challenges. Not every cloud has a silver lining. Do not fear being negative and pessimistic with your German colleagues.