Book Review: The Culture Map

The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business is a book on cultural differences in communication by Erin Meyer.

Last year, I spent three months in NYC. Whenever I entered food outlet or made an eye contact, all the conversation started with “How are you doing?”. I replied, “I’m good and how are you doing?”. Most of the times, I didn’t receive a response. It was a sign. Pedestrians smile at you if you make an eye contact in the US. This doesn’t happen back in India. Neither I’d dare to do it. That’s considered crazy. You smile at someone whom you know or about to talk. Anything else is inviting problem.

The Culture Map is a book about how different culture perceives communication, persuasion, respect, politeness, leadership, decision-making and trust. The book documents all little details how neighboring countries like the UK and France differs. The book provides a relative scale how one culture compares to other. For example, confrontation in a debate in India is considered as outrageous whereas it is an essential aspect of the sound argument in France. French culture emphasis on thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Asian culture doesn’t encourage open negative feedback in public.

If you’re operating a business or working with multi-ethnicity people, understanding the cultural difference is a key ingredient of a fruitful outcome and pleasant experience. Knowing the difference will save you future trouble.

The book covers a lot of cultures differences in many countries, how to work in multi-cultural environment and decode culture difference. The book filled with a good amount of real-life stories and relative comparison of various culture.

Having worked and working with Canadians, Americans, Dutch, and Indians I’m surprised by author’s effort in narrating the culture difference with solid backing. Next time when you encounter a communication gap, you will start thinking does culture play a role here? The book is absolute treasure trove on various cultures.

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