Influencing Across Cultures

January 30, 2024

The ability to influence others is a crucial skill as it can gather the support needed to push your ideas forward. However, the art of persuasion is not universal, and different cultures have distinct preferences for styles of communication.

In her book, "The Culture Map," Erin Meyer emphasizes the importance of adapting your influencing skills to the cultural context. Imagine you're making a sales pitch tomorrow. How would you approach your presentation?

Alternative Description

a): Using real-life examples to persuade your audience, emphasising practical applications rather than ‘vision’ and theory. This approach aligns with applications-first reasoning or inductive reasoning, where conclusions are drawn from real-world observations.

b): Starting with theoretical principles before exploring practical applications, using principles-first reasoning or deductive reasoning. This method draws conclusions from general principles or concepts.

Alternative Description
Using real-life examples to persuade your audience.
Alternative Description
Starting with theoretical principles before exploring practical applications.

Meyer suggests that Anglo-Saxon cultures, such as the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK, lean towards an inductive style of reasoning.

On the other hand, deductive reasoning is associated with countries like Italy, France, Spain, and Russia.

Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Sweden fall somewhere in between.

Moreover, she points out that Asian cultures tend towards 'big picture' thinking, requiring a unique approach altogether.

It's crucial to recognise that your preferred influencing style may differ from your audience's preference. To achieve the best results, invest time in understanding your audience and their communication preferences. If possible, consult with an 'insider' - someone familiar with the culture and company - to gain insights. In cases of uncertainty between inductive and deductive approaches, consider incorporating both. Present the theory while providing real-world examples simultaneously.

By tailoring your influencing strategies to the cultural context, you enhance the likelihood of success in your presentations and negotiations.

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“I’ve gained a better understanding to cultural differences. I definitely suggest colleagues go on this to learn that something may be classed as ‘rude’ but it’s merely a misunderstanding.”

Cultural Diversity & Inclusion

St George

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University of Sussex

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