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Speed Review: Mexicans & Americans

Speed Review: Mexicans & Americans

Speed Review: Mexicans & Americans

Cracking the Cultural Code

by Ned Crouch

In Mexicans & Americans, international businessman Ned Crouch explains how cultural bias affects the way Americans get along with Mexicans, why Mexican people behave the way they do, and how people from both cultures can work together more effectively. His in-depth analysis explains cultural attitudes toward work and describes how businesspeople can apply the lessons of cultural anthropologists to the real world. Crouch cracks the cultural code of Mexico by describing how the Mexican culture works and how Mexicans and their differences with Americans can be better understood.

Review

Cracking the Cultural Code
In Mexicans & Americans, international businessman Ned Crouch explains how cultural bias affects the way Americans get along with Mexicans, why Mexican people behave the way they do, and how people from both cultures can work together more effectively. His in-depth analysis explains cultural attitudes toward work and describes how businesspeople can apply the lessons of cultural anthropologists to the real world. Using anecdotes from his own personal experiences during his many years of working in Mexico, as well as the stories he has gathered from numerous informative interviews and conversations, Crouch cracks the cultural code of Mexico by describing how the Mexican culture works and how Mexicans and their differences with Americans can be better understood.

The first part of Crouch's book shows readers how the differences between Mexicans and Americans play out in a variety of business and real-life situations. By focusing on Mexicans' perception of time, their sense of space, and their construction and use of language, Crouch demonstrates how these deeply embedded influences lead to dramatic differences in approaches toward business. While providing examples and presenting tips, he discusses how the underlying construction and use of language affect the pace of business.

The second part of Mexicans & Americans takes a close look at the intricacies of the opposing work styles of Mexicans and Americans. Using the microcosm of the factory floor to describe the differences between their work styles and working relationships, Crouch describes ways businesspeople can cope with the many problems that inevitably crop up in cross-border business and real life. His insights into conflict resolution can be applied to just about any work or social interaction between Mexicans and Americans.

The Way Americans Work
While revealing Mexicans and their culture, Crouch also looks at the ways Americans work, and explores the differences between both work cultures. By investigating the reasons behind these differences, he is able to discover and describe effective approaches to resolving conflicts and building relationships. By exploring why people behave the way they do, and appreciating how the hierarchical outlook of most Mexicans is different from Americans' egalitarian style, Crouch helps readers devise strategies for communicating more effectively across cultural barriers in Mexico, as well as with Mexicans who are working or living in the United States.

Crouch's book also shows how achieving cultural fluency depends on building context. Crouch explains that Mexicans are a highly contextual people, and to help Americans appreciate the core values and self-concepts of Mexicans, he explores "the archeology of the Mexican mind." By looking at the historical trends and current challenges that make up the Mexican political, economic and social experience, Crouch offers a cultural perspective on many aspects of daily life in Mexico and describes how these cultural influences affect society at large.

The Lens of Culture
Crouch writes that by "learning to look through the lens of culture, you can avoid mistakes and frustration while building a bridge of communication." Without this understanding, he explains, many people can fall into the trap of assuming that things are the same in Mexico as they are in the United States. By fostering a greater understanding of cultural differences, Crouch helps readers appreciate the value of adjusting thinking and behavior in order to be successful in their interactions with Mexicans.

Crouch describes how to handle a fender bender in Mexico, how to tell a Mexican employee that he or she will not get a raise, how to create incentives for employees, and how to train and manage workers. He also points out the mistakes that others have made from which lessons can be learned. In one example, Crouch recounts the experience of a Kansas businessman, Sam. At a formal dedication ceremony, Sam watched the wealthy owner of a construction company embrace his son, a manager on the project, and kiss him on the lips to show his pride. Next, when it was Sam's turn to show his respect to the construction company owner, he embraced the old man, and kissed him on the lips. Although reactions were mixed at Sam's faux pas (a kiss between immediate family members is fine in Mexico, but between business partners is unheard of), Crouch points out, "we are all imperfect."

Why We Like This Book
In Mexicans & Americans, Crouch brings a deeper understanding of intercultural relationships to the workplace, and does so with valid generalizing that never sinks into stereotyping. Crouch is an advocate for greater intercultural discourse, and brings the broadest aspects of Mexican culture and its most pertinent minutia together to form a vivid picture of the Mexican people, creating a better understanding of Americans along the way.