Books we read: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Diversity ia a huge source of learning and enrichment. Sometimes painful, always rewarding. It makes us shift our ways of thinking, feeling and doing. Behind doing business and opening to new markets, people will always stick to their cultures, with their biases, beliefs and values. It is the human interactions that are truer than ever, even in a digital era that is shrinking the world, that will take you closer to your new customers.

Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading business schools. Her body of work focuses on unveiling the complexities of cultural differences in multicultural environments.

Meyer also states that invisible boundaries divide our world, and “whether you are aware or not, subtle differences in communicating patterns and complex variations in what is considered good business or common sense for one county to another have a tremendous impact on how we understand one another, and ultimately on how we get the job done”. And, even though you might think that you can culturally clump together countries like Ecuador and Chile, the cultural differences are more than can meet your eye.

The Cultural Map addresses how we see other culture, what we think about them through our own filters and biases and what we should to cross the bridges of communication.

The author introduces a visual tool of eight scales to help you understand how they are positioned relative to one another. This tool will deepen your understanding of other cultures, as well as your own, how they communicate, evaluate, persuade, lead, decide, trust, disagree and schedule. The most important perspective is that cultures are relative to one another. No culture has the whole truth, but rather their own way of perceiving, thinking and acting upon situations. Your task as a business is to minimize these gaps through understanding, empathy and human interactions.

Although many theories and tons of research and experiences are put into this book, Meyer offers insights on the practical applications of those theories. She walks the readers through her own experience with a Chinese colleague and how she started understanding his culture and her perception of him. If you are considering going global with your business and need to communicate with your customers, this is a book to read.

We would like to hear your comments on these insights, whether you read the book or would like to read it.

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