Calling it a day…

Do you have books that you have been sort-of-reading for ages? They are not really gripping and you read or skim a chapter here or there, but you never seem to make real progress and you don‘t want to DNF the book either?

This is the book that probably has been hanging out on my currently-reading shelf the longest — since September 2018!

The Culture Map (INTL ED): Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures
by Erin Meyer

A work colleague recommended this to me. I generally struggle with non-fiction, unless it is a topic that really, really interests me. Work-related literature is even worse. However, if you work in an international field and frequently deal with other countries and cultures, this book offers some eye-opening insights.

It‘s not just about your communication partner at the opposite end of the cultural scale, but also about recognizing yourself and understanding, how your own culture operates.

When interacting with someone from another culture, try to watch more, listen more, and speak less. Listen before you speak and learn before you act. Before picking up the phone to negotiate with your suppliers in China, […] use all the available resources to understand how the cultural framework you are working with is different from your own—and only then react.

 “As with so many challenges related to cross-cultural collaboration, awareness and open communication go a long way toward defusing conflict.

Each chapter follows a very set structure. It starts with the chapter’s overarching topic and the author offers a memory of her own life, private or business, relating to it and thus explaining what specific issue the chapter tackles.

This is followed by an actual business example of one person dealing with the issue well and one person dealing with it in their own cultural context and failing. This might be combined with some historical references, showing why a certain culture behaves in a specific way. The reader is given views of different scales and where cultures land on that scale. Quiet interesting and probably a good reason to get this book in paper or to read it on a large display. Here is an example:


This scale was explained via a business meeting with Germans and US Americans…

If you think of your Germanic European business associates as stolid, silent types, you may be surprised when a matter of controversy arises. You are likely to find them eager to jump into the fray, since they regard disagreement not as a matter of personal emotion, but rather as a valuable intellectual exercise from which truth emerges.

Oh yes, we will grill you from all angles in a very Spock-like manner! It doesn‘t mean that we don‘t like you, we just cherish debate and confrontation as a tool to find the best answers…

Still, this book generalizes with a broad brush and very wide strokes. Believe me, there are plenty of Germans that bruise easily and will take personal offense, if you disagree with their opinion. Or maybe you simply overshot your goal on that Disagreement Scale…

I have been picking up this book every now and then to finally write a short review and then DNF it. Instead I usually ended up reading or skimming another short chapter and finding worthwhile tips for my working life. But I am calling it a day now. Management books of this type are just too dry and feel too much like work. Maybe one of these days I will browse through the last 40% of this…

14 thoughts on “Calling it a day…

    1. Yes, it is. However, it‘s very formulaic approach makes it a little tedious to read. Hence my lack of speed. I‘ve been thinking about getting it in. Paper, to use it as a reference book. I‘ll see, once I have actually finished reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I just wanted to comment on this, the I noticed that I did last year. Did you republish this review?
    As a side note, one doesn’t have to go abroad for cultural differences. I‘ve been in Swiss and Austrian projects, and those are exotic, strange folks! 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I re-published after deciding to abandon this book. Moving an entry back to a draft means „unpublishing“ it. The other option would have been to copy the code of the old entry and make a new one. Maybe that would have been the better option.

      Cultural differences: Austria and Switzerland are technically abroad. They are separate countries with diverging histories and in the case of Switzerland a different, if similar, language.

      Liked by 1 person

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