Many articles have come out recently showing that the language, or languages, we speak may affect how we think and how we interact with others. AAAS recently reported on a study that showed that English speaking people tend to talk about actions, while German speakers talk about the beginning, middle, and ends of events. Furthermore, German speakers seem to focus on the "outcomes of people's actions," whereas English speakers focus on what the person is doing in the moment. When researchers studied bilingual speakers, they showed that the person viewed actions differently, depending on which of his languages he was speaking, seemingly demonstrating that language does affect perception.
The AAAS article also cites that different languages seem to lend themselves to focusing different attention on objects, so that Japanese group by material not shape and "Koreans focus on how tightly objects fit together."
An article in Harvard Business Review discusses how people plan for the future differently based in part on how the language they speak deals with present and future tense constructions. Those whose languages have similar ways of constructing present and future tenses do more planning for the future than those who speak languages that have different structures for present and future tenses.
Other researchers say that some of these findings may be evidence of cultural differences, as opposed to language differences. Whether language differences affect cultural outlook or vice versa is really a chicken or the egg question. And the answer may not really matter. What does matter is for us to realize that people who speak a different language may also approach problem solving differently or place emphasis on different aspects of what they see.
Such differences could be really helpful if harnessed correctly in group situations. Looking at problems through different view points and examining issues with different ideas of what is critically important and what is not important leads to productive discussions and better and more creative problem solving.