There are numerous models of cultural differences out there. One is the peach-coconut continuum. In peach cultures (USA), people are soft on the outside and hard on the inside. In other words, there is a lot of surface friendliness, but establishing close friendships is difficult. In coconut cultures (Germany), the exterior is hard, but once a relationship is established the friendship is strong and lasting.
Other models focus on aspects of culture such as communication style (direct vs. indirect, high context vs. low context); notions of time (linear or circular); beliefs about self (individual vs. part of a collective); or locus of control (internal vs. external).
The good folks at Global Mapping International (GMI) have put together a helpful infographic (below) highlighting three primarily cultural orientations as depicted by the three primary colors. Here is their explanation:
We spend a lot of time trying to understand the differences between cultures. But what is the end-game? The more we learn about other cultures, the better we can shine God’s love. Also, as we see God through our own cultural lens and engage with people from other cultures, we begin to see the world the way God sees it!
In publishing this infographic, GMI asks the following questions:
- Are our intercultural interactions leading to the light of God’s love or are they ending in division and strife?
- What are we doing to raise awareness of cultural differences in our congregations and among those going on short-term mission trips?
- Are we training our people to see the differences between how cultures view people’s essential problem/solution?
Whether we are new to service in China or have been at it for a long time, it’s always good to step back and think about the effect that culture has on how we communicate. This infographic helps us do just that.
And to help you assess what color (culture) you are, go here to take the culture test.
Culture’s Color, God’s Light
We spend a lot of time trying to understand the differences between cultures. But what is the end-game? The more we learn about other cultures, the better we can shine God’s love. Also, as we see God through our own cultural lens and engage with people from other cultures, we begin to see the world the way God sees it! Explore three cultural frameworks and take a moment to add to this important research by taking the test yourself: http://theculturetest.com.
Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio