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.
For Americans a key core competence is the ability to identify opportunities in complex problems. Americans focus far more on opportunities than on problems. Exploiting opportunities is the true path to success.
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. Americans can appear naive or worse, as ignorant of the dangers..
The German focus on the weak points of a given situatin 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.
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.