I work in an international company, and there are lots of people from different cultures around me, and with whom I need to interact. Out of the blue, it feels like it’s easy to work with all of them, I mean, how difficult could it be to work with them?
Actually, it’s easy, but sometimes interactions are intriguing and people do not react the way you expect them to react. And why is that? Lots of reasons, of course, but one of them is that they have a different culture and do not expect you to explicitly tell them what they did wrong (which is something I do. A lot).
Content and opinions
Enters Erin Meyer. She had to navigate between these cultures, as she’s American, married to a French guy, in France. In her book, she presents 8 scales, and each culture is placed differently on each scale.
I won’t enter in all the details of the different scales, but they are about all the different ways of people interacting with other people. Whether it’s about scheduling, feedback to decision-making, all cultures are different. And sometimes, even if the cultures are close geographically, they can be quite different on some scales. After all, they are all influenced by their short or long history, their philosophers…
All the scales are imaged with stories of Meyer’s experience in teaching them, stories from her students, and they are always spot on.
Of course, the book only tells you the differences, what to look for. It doesn’t educate you to do the right think. This takes practice, and it requires work.
Also it doesn’t solve all interaction problems. Everyone is different in one’s own culture (not even talking about people having several cultures…), on the left or on the right compared to the average of one’s culture on each scale. So you can’t sum up someone to a culture. But if you want to learn more about interacting with people, you already know that.