German Approach

For Germans a key core competence is the ability to identify, analyze and solve complex problems. When persuading Germans focus almost exclusively on problems. Problem-solving is the path to success.

American Approach

For Americans a key core competence is the ability to identify opportunities within the context of complex problems. Americans focus far more on opportunities than on problems. Exploiting opportunities is the true path to success.

German View

Interpreting a problem primarily as an opportunity and acting too quickly can signal to Germans an inability to recognize the seriousness of the situation and its dangers. When Americans spend too little time on explaining the nature of the problem, they can appear to Germans as naive or even worse, as ignorant of the problem's dangers.

American View

The German focus on the weak points of a given situation is often perceived by Americans as consciously seeking out problems, instead of searching for the positive. German colleagues can be viewed as pessimistic, negative, even destructive. "They only like to talk about problems."

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 coming across as negative and pessimistic with your German colleagues.