The Culture Map; Breaking Through the Invisible Barriers of Global Business by Erin Meyer

There is something that feels contrived about this book. These broad generalizations are fun to talk about, but the reader wonders if they are actually true. Is it really true that Americans prefer candor and even bluntness in most areas of communication but not for criticism?

Also, there is a great deal of variance within any cultural group. My partner Bill is very Japanese in his mode of expression, preferring subtlety and indirectness to my preference to make my point as simply and directly as possible.

That said, the thrust of this book is true: Different cultures have their own styles of communicating – passing along information, giving feedback and criticism, giving compliments, and persuading others of their ideas.

Americans precede anything negative with three nice comments. The French, Dutch, Israelis, and Germans get straight to the point. Latin Americans and Asians are steeped in hierarchy. Scandinavians think the best boss is just one of the crowd. It’s no surprise that when these people try to talk to each other, chaos breaks out.

I thought that after more than 40 years of living internationally and doing business in dozens of countries I’d have all of this figured out by now. But I haven’t.