Let’s take a look at a few specific dimensions from Erin Meyer’s work and consider how they might create challenges and interesting learning opportunities when you collaborate with people from different backgrounds. To start, consider the image below, which shows how cultural values differ in four different countries: Germany, France, China, and Japan.
In this graphic, you can see not just how certain cultures are similar and different, but also how cultural values are relative. For instance, if a German views time in a very linear way, they may view a French person’s approach to time as too loose. However, if that same French person is working with someone from China, their approach to scheduling may be viewed quite differently. Someone from China might view a French collaborator as having a fairly rigid approach to time, assuming the person from China has a relatively flexible view of time and scheduling by comparison.
Keep in mind that these scenarios assume that each person in this example adheres to the general cultural patterns associated with their country based on the findings of one particular researcher or group of researchers. It’s important to remember that people are unique. They rarely behave and see the world in the exact way that a scholarly study might imply.
Explanations of Key Dimensions
In the next few sections, we’ll look at specific cultural dimensions from Erin Meyer’s work. While all of the dimensions in Meyer’s quiz can impact how we communicate and collaborate with people from different cultures, the following dimensions often have the most potential pitfalls and opportunities to foster meaningful connection.