screen-shot-2013-02-02-at-1940351Foreign to Familiar
Paradoxically Foreign to Familiar (McDougal Publishing) is both an easy read and a challenging one. It is in a style that is very accessible, is a relatively short book of only 120 pages and is liberally illustrated with personal experiences of the author. But, as one who has travelled quite widely in different cultures, I still find it challenging. Too often I find myself re-reading it and thinking ‘Oh dear, I have made that mistake …. and that one…’!

This book is a ‘must read’ for those who are interested or involved in cross-cultural mission. Sarah Lanier is well qualified to write on this topic having lived and ministered across six continents over the last 30 years, and being a speaker of six languages.

When ‘no’ means ‘yes’
From the opening story in the Preface she grabs the reader’s attention. She shares how a Lebanese woman whom she met was lonely in the USA after eight years living there as, when invited to share someone’s hospitality (even a cup of coffee) she would politely say ‘no’ (as was appropriate in her culture) expecting the one offering the invitation to press her to come. This, of course, never happened and she assumed she was not really wanted in their social circle. Because of such people and their experiences Sarah Lanier wrote this book.

Hot and Cold Climates
Acknowledging that generalisations are often helpful but inevitably just that – generalisations – she categorises culture into two groups: hot climate (independent) and cold climate (inclusive). These are remarkably easy to recognise according to the relevant climate though there are some notable exceptions, such as Russians who exhibit a hot climate culture in their social inclusivity of those around them.

Each chapter (Relationship vs Task, Direct vs indirect communication, Hospitality, Time and Planning etc.) helpfully closes with a check list of ‘Points to Remember’. This is where I get condemned!

This book is for you
As we become increasingly a so-called ‘global village’ we encounter different cultures, whether through travel or in our local neighbourhood. This book will help you appreciate some of the pitfalls that await you and, perhaps, prevent you from making too many unfortunate faux-pas. It will also give you an enjoyable read with some fascinating anecdotes to illustrate various points.

I strongly recommend it. You can buy it here (UK) or here (USA).

Bookmark and Share

[Post to Twitter] Tweet This 

Comments are closed.