Erin Meyer’s The Culture Map is a much easier and much more relevant read related to my research area. While not especially an academic book, it speaks to how our global communities and individuals today try to get things done across cultures. While often utilizing business examples and challenges, I believe the concepts in this book are applicable anywhere cultural rifts impede individuals from different cultures collaborating (perhaps such as serving together within a local church or local churches working together within a community).
The Culture Map stands out as a practical book to explain and frame a very difficult collection of concepts that are increasingly relevant today. The author acknowledges and reinforces that even she herself did not start independent of any cultural bias as we all have. It is encouraging to learn to grow in this way. This reviewer of our text states the obvious, we all start with a cultural bias. Unfortunately, the most destructive default is to not recognize our own culturally informed uniqueness (i.e., bias) and instead simply see the other as different and perhaps less than.
Statistics was my minor within my undergraduate degree (I started as a Math major). Therefore, I am always highly interested in how data is accumulated, compiled, graphed and most importantly, interpreted or applied. I found Meyer’s eight scale model resulting from her decade of research, curious in the scales chosen, the polar extremes utilized, and left me wondering how the data from individuals of various cultures were derived. However, I found her application of the eight scale model most intriguing. That is, “what matters is not the absolute position of either culture on the scale but rather the relative position of the two cultures. It is this relative positioning that determines how people view one another.” Meyer emphasizes that this cultural relativity, this expression of cultural intelligence, is the vital link to beginning to understand the impact of culture on human interfaces (especially communication) between even highly motivated individuals pursuing a common goal (e.g., profit, growth, market share).
I was then fascinated how the derivative of cultural relativity was a better understanding of one’s own culture. I know for me when I gain greater clarity about how my own culture informs my human interactions, I believe this newfound clarity to be an epiphany. Meyer states, “It is only when you start to identify what is typical in your culture, but different from others, that you can begin to open a dialogue of sharing, learning, and ultimately understanding.” This application fascinates me because often social science applications within business focus on how to get others to work together or how to get you to work with me. Instead, Meyer places the derivative of the application upon me as the agent of cultural learning and understanding.
I initiated this post by claiming this text is highly relevant to my research area. Perhaps like many of you, I continue to refine the research question, NPO, and resolution. I see coaching as a powerful set of tools to help groups of pastors learn adaptive leadership skills across cultures and therefore, globally. I am reminded of an application of cultural relativity I learned from a coaching class I am currently taking. This online class of some eight coaches located in several countries are striving to improve their coaching skills. The class includes a coach of Chinese descent who is located in southeast Asia. He shared how explaining the Chinese symbol of listening helped a coach understand the coaching skill of active listening.
He went on to explain how the left side of the symbol represents an ear. The right side represents the other individual. The eyes and undivided attention are next, and finally, there is the heart. This symbol illustrates for us that to listen; we must use both ears, watch and maintain eye contact, give undivided attention, and finally be empathetic. This simple illustration reminded me how often my culture does not listen holistically and therefore, not as well. Once again, I am now more open for dialogue, learning, sharing, and with the Spirit’s insight, understanding.
 Rawn Shah, “’The Culture Map’ Shows Us The Differences In How We Work”, https://www.forbes.com/sites/…/the-culture-map-shows-us-how-we-wok-worldwide/ Oct 6, 2014.
 Meyer, Erin, The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, And Get Things Done Across Cultures (New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2014) 22.
 Meyer, The Culture Map, 244.
 Google, “Chinese symbol for listening” (accessed 01/31/2019).