1.: The use of first names. Today this is standard practice everywhere in the English-speaking world. First names are normal openers and do NOT signal privileged relationships. Using surnames or (far worse) no names at all only distances you needlessly from your counterpart.
2.: Engage in small talk. This means light social conversation and never involves money, health, family, physical appearance, politics or religion. It involves the weather, homeland, holidays, sports and recreational tips. Small talk is for everyone, in every social situation, and comes before – not after – business or shoptalk. Yes, some cultures talk family. Many do not. Moral: Do not introduce a topic you are unsure of. Germans love to talk about prices and physical conditions. This will come across as unduly serious and private in many international situations. Climate change may over time morph the weather from a light to a heavy topic, but for the moment it remains a neutral inter cultural bond.
3.:Never say never. ‘No’ means ‘no’ in German but remember that English avoids direct negativity by at least apologizing for it. The shortest way to say ‘no’, therefore, is probably “I’m afraid not”.
4.: Engage in back channeling. That means active listening with plenty of “aha’s“ and “right’s“ to help your partner along rather than blank silence which will only unsettle them.
5.: Yield your turn or allow yourself to be interrupted. There’s a lot more interaction in English than interruption, so don’t do the selfish thing and hold your turn by rabbiting on. Yield your turn by apologizing and giving way: “I’m sorry, go ahead.”
6.: Use phrasal verbs instead of formal verbs for conversational freshness. That means cancel becomes ‘call off’ and repeat becomes ‘run over’. This is not slang or dialect, but standard global English speech.
7.: Question tags (“aren’t you?”, “won’t we?”) are not slang or dialect but standard spoken signals which engage and link up with our audience.
8.: Remove false friends from international conversation. A ‘Handy’ is a mobile or cell phone. Workers are committed, not ‘engaged’.
9.: Replace directives and monotone representatives with human expressives. Instead of “We need the document ASAP”, try “We would be very grateful if you could send the document at your earliest convenience.”
10.: And lastly, remember to shake the body in all the right ways. Too much direct eye contact can be frightening for many cultures. Shaking hands is for initial introductions. Repetitive Handshake Syndrome is a not an Anglo-Saxon disease.