At the moment I am reading “The Culture Map”* by INSEAD Professor Erin Meyer. In the book she describes how people across different cultures think and act differently. I always emphasize that you need to check whether your communications have been understood correctly; this book made me realize that some cultures communicate more implicit.
Our Dutch culture is one of the low context language cultures. We like to be very specific in our descriptions to ensure that everything is understood as we meant it. On the other hand, in high(er) context cultures the real message is often hidden between the words. You can hear one thing while another thing is meant. Emphasis is put different in high context cultures and thus you need to read between the lines.
Erin explains the differences in several cultures by using many stories from her own experience as an American citizen living in France and traveling the world. This makes the book a joyful read that sometimes creates “aha” moments where I recognize and can explain certain situations from the past. Meanwhile, Erin adds a framework to map and recognize the cultural differences and to help you deal with them. With the framework in the book I can see myself pick it up in the future to support me in working more effectively with different cultures.
If you read only one book this summer, I would highly recommend “The Culture Map.”* In our ever increasing multinational and global world it will certainly benefit you.
PS: In the Alliance Masterclasses in London, Amsterdam and Singapore we will also discuss the importance of dealing with cultural differences in your alliances.