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  • Writer's pictureDavid Nagai

The Culture Map

In the book, The Culture Map, Erin Meyer outlines a chart with eight scales that explain some main characteristics about cultures. If we understand what they are, we will be able to compare and contrast different cultures. This awareness can help us see where differences between cultures can lead to miscommunications, conflicts, or collaboration.

Here is a basic explanation of each of the eight scales that are in the chart:


(Direct vs. indirect communication)

Low-context: Communication is considered to be good when it is simple, direct, and clear, without any nuance or hidden message. This means repeating main points is seen as valuable for clarification.

High-context: Communication is considered to be good when it is nuanced and indirect. People should read between the lines to understand the deeper message that is being implied.

2. EVALUATING (How feedback is given)

Direct Negative Feedback: Negative feedback is given directly and honestly without additional positive comments. Sometimes this feedback is given publicly.

Indirect Negative Feedback: Negative feedback is given gently and diplomatically. Positive comments are also given in order to make it easier to receive the negative feedback. This type of feedback is given privately so as to avoid embarrassing the person.

3. LEADING (How leaders lead)

Egalitarian: There is not much distance between a boss and the team. The boss is seen more as a facilitator and everyone can communicate freely and honestly.

Hierarchical: There is a lot of distance between the boss and the team. Communication must follow set structures to show respect for people higher up.

4. DECIDING (How decisions are made)

Consensual: Decisions are made by the whole group agreeing.

Top-down: Decisions are made by one person or small group (boss or top leadership)


(How trust is built)

Task-based: Trust is built through doing business activities together. If you work hard and do quality work, this means you are reliable and trustworthy. Relationships may form quickly or end quickly depending on if work is being shared.

Relationship-based: Trust is built through social activities/events more than work activities. These relationships take longer to build and are often deeper than task-based relationships.

6. DISSAGREEING (How people deal with conflict)

Confrontational: People face conflict directly through direct words or debate but the relationship remains strong.

Avoids Confrontation: Disagreement and debate are viewed as negative and should be avoided as much as possible. If there is confrontation it will hurt the relationship.


(How time is managed)

Linear-time: The schedule must not be changed and people must always be on time. It’s best to focus on one thing at a time.

Flexible-time: Schedules can change if necessary and it’s okay to be late. The focus is on flexibility and many things can happen at the same time.

8. PERSUADING (How people persuade others)

Principles First: People are trained to explain the theory or context before their final conclusion or opinion. In emails, presentations, or reports, it’s better to start by composing a theoretical argument before stating the conclusion.

Applications First: People are trained to start with the main conclusion, facts, or opinion before they explain the theory or explanations. In an email, presentation, or report, it’s better to be clear about the main point first and then give more details later if necessary.

Below are charts with different cultures. (I make some observations on the podcast audio)








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