Our best reads for navigating and embracing cultures
The ability to navigate and thrive in diverse cultural environments is an extremely valuable skill that transcends borders and enriches our lives.
In this article, Fiorenza, one of our coaches, has handpicked a collection of her favourite books containing insights, stories, and strategies for successful cross-cultural living.
“The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer is truly a must-read, it doesn’t matter whether you are a manager of a diverse team or are moving to another country with your family.
What I love about “The Culture Map” is that it has so many relatable, real-world business examples. From negotiations with international partners to leading multicultural teams and deciphering the unwritten rules of global business etiquette, you’ll find yourself nodding along in recognition.
The book vividly illustrates how cultural differences can lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and even some cringe-worthy moments. Meyer peels back the layers of various cultural dimensions, like communication styles, hierarchy, decision-making processes, and the concept of time.
“The Culture Map” brings an important message that cultural diversity is a strength, not a weakness. Meyer encourages you to see that no culture is inherently better or worse than another – they’re just different; and that by grasping and embracing these differences, you’ll learn how to turn them into assets, creating stronger, more harmonious cross-cultural relationships.
When you finish reading this book, you will have a toolbox full of strategies for communicating effectively and gracefully sidestepping the common cultural stumbling blocks.
If you’re one of these global nomads, who spent your childhood hopping from one country to the next because of your parents’ jobs, this book is a personal mirror reflecting your experiences.
“Third Culture Kids” talks about the complex issue of identity and belonging. Growing up as a TCK often means that you don’t quite fit into the mould of any one culture. You might speak multiple languages, appreciate diverse cuisines, and feel comfortable in a range of social settings. But where do you truly belong? Who are you when you’re a blend of so many influences? This book provides insightful answers and strategies for finding a sense of self amid cultural diversity even for those who haven’t experienced the TCK lifestyle.
In the recent editions of the book, the introduction of the term “Cross-Cultural Kid” (CCK) adds an even broader perspective. While TCKs are often associated with expat, military, or missionary backgrounds, CCKs encompass a wider array of experiences.
If you’ve ever felt the exhilaration of discovering a new culture, the pain of saying goodbye to friends, or the confusion of answering the question, “Where are you from?”; or maybe it is something you would like to know more about – this book is a great companion.
Molinsky provides actionable advice and concrete strategies to help you bridge the gap between your own cultural norms and those of your new environment.
What I like about it most is that “Global Dexterity” really helps you maintain your authenticity while navigating the intricacies of different cultural contexts. It acknowledges the inner struggle of wanting to adapt and blend in while not wanting to lose the essence of who you are.
One of the book’s key lessons is that merely acquiring knowledge about a new culture is not enough. Understanding the customs, traditions, and etiquette of a foreign culture is essential, but it’s just the beginning – because the true art of global dexterity lies in finding practical ways to incorporate these insights into your behaviour.
If you’ve ever found yourself in situations where you needed to connect with people from vastly different backgrounds – this book is your roadmap to success.
The book introduces a brilliant four-step framework for navigating cultural contexts. Livermore breaks down cultural intelligence into four essential elements: Drive, Knowledge, Strategy, and Action.
→ Drive is the inner motivation that propels you to learn about and adapt to different cultures. It’s like the fuel in your tank. Livermore teaches you how to ignite this drive within yourself, helping you stay committed to the journey of cultural understanding even when faced with challenges.
→ Knowledge is the foundation. It’s about acquiring an understanding of the cultural nuances, norms, and values of the people you’re dealing with.
→ Strategy is your game plan. It involves using your cultural knowledge to formulate effective strategies for interacting with individuals from different backgrounds.
→ Knowledge and strategy are valuable, but they are meaningless without action. Livermore encourages you to put your cultural intelligence into practice.
For me, one of the standout features of “The Art of Crossing Cultures” is its emphasis on the personal challenges of cultural adaptation. Storti gets down to the nitty-gritty of what it feels like to step into a new cultural world.
I really like that this book draws on the personal challenges of adjusting to another culture: anticipating differences, managing the temptation to withdraw, and gradually adjusting expectations of behaviour to fit reality.
Storti acknowledges the very real struggles people experience with culture shock and provides practical, actionable advice for moving beyond the shock phase.
The book will definitely help those finding themselves questioning their own abilities or feeling lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Storti shares not only his own experiences but also the experiences of others who have walked this path before – and did it successfully.
You’ll find solace in knowing that your challenges and doubts are not unique and that there is a way forward.