// Full disclosure up front that I decided to read this book as it is part of the syllabus for an INSEAD course I’m taking this week. //
Cultural differences is part and parcel of working in the international arena. Although I have worked in Australia, Asia, USA, Latin America, South America, Europe and Africa it is clear that I still have a lot to learn about how be more effective when working with these cultures. Erin’s book has been able to take a complex and diverse set of topics revolving around culture and map them into what she calls the eight scales (communication, evaluation, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling). The book is divided into these eight scales and Meyer delves into each scale with detailed examples and case studies. What I liked about this book was the consistent summary (in a figure format) of each scale along with where most of the key countries fit on that scale.
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. Measuring a culture on one of the eight scales isn’t as simple as identifying where it sits on that scale. It is the relative position to the culture that you are from or between the two cultures dealing with each other. For example, the UK is typically a low-context communication culture, however, when dealing with the US that isn’t the case.
2. Surprise surprise that listening is a key takeaway. Listen to what is meant versus what it is said when working with different cultures. There is a lot of intelligence that can be garnered by reading between the lines. Naturally, I would include watching of body language as part of this takeaway.
3. Love this: The French have a saying, “Quand on connait sa maladie, on est à moitié guéri”—“ When you know your sickness, you are halfway cured.”