Show some respect for the country and people you’re visiting by studying the culture a little beforehand. I was once riding in a cab in Bangkok with a buddy of mine, when he made a joke about the King. The driver slammed on the brakes and kicked us out. My buddy didn't understand what had happened, but I did: Insulting the King in Thailand is a criminal offense. A little knowledge and sensitivity goes a long way to making foreign friends and influencing people.
Learn a couple of phrases in the local language. Even if you butcher what you're saying, the locals appreciate the effort more than you think. Asking them, Did I say that right? is a fantastic way to break the ice.