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Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  526 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Why do people from certain cultures have little regard for time? Why might working overtime reflect poorly on you in Scandinavia? Why should you avoid using your left hand when interacting with someone from the Arab world?

Taught by an international adviser to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and governments, Customs of the World reveals how you can actively i
Audio CD
Published August 13th 2013 by The Great Courses
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Petra-X ruins books by eating when reading them
Update I'm reading the Arab cluster and the author is explaining the reasons for the preference for boy children over girls. One of the reasons is because a boy can bring honour to the family, a girl can only bring shame. Reading that made me so sad. A boy has the ability to move in the world and by his actions, bring honour. A girl is born with honour. Her role is to be a submissive daughter, wife and mother. If she fulfils those roles correctly, she maintains her and the family honour. Should ...more
Debbie "DJ"
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, cultural
This is a series of 24 lectures that I listened to on audio. The first half describes the many different beliefs and characteristics of a culture. The second half goes into what are called "cultural clusters" of the world, how they were formed, and how they function based on the various attitudes described in the first section.

There is a lot of material here, and I'm finding it difficult to review as so much information needs a second, or third listen. This is not dry material though, I found Li
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, sociology
The first half of this course, the one detailing different cultural dimensions and how they apply to different contexts and cultures, was eye opening! Surprisingly, I find it provides more value in the interpersonal realm (in facilitating communication between people with different values - here, on different points of the cultural dimension scale - and in helping identify those values) than in adapting one's behavior to suit a country.
The second half, well that's another story. Here we go into
Larry Hansen
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I got this audio book as part of a sale of several "Great Courses". The title did not particularly attract me so it set on the shelf for many moons. As it turns out it was a great read (listen).
Things like the "doing" vs "being" attitude are actually ingrained in many cultures whereas I thought of it as a major paradigm shift of one's nature rather than a cultural characteristic.
This course gave me a much better appreciation of the hows and whys of people outside of my culture and it is a good s
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book was so packed with observations that were both fascinating and practical, I think I'll find myself wanting to listen again in years to come. It's about how culture profoundly affects how people and societies interact, along with practical advice on how to observe and interact with people from all cultures and subcultures both around the world and at home. This course is invaluable not only to world travelers, but to anybody who engages with people from other cultures, whether at work or ...more
Jessica Meyers
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent group of lectures that explains a decent amount of what you'd need to know when visiting various locations around the world. I thought Livermore did a wonderful job of presenting this material in a structured way. I thought what was discussed was very useful. I particularly liked how he related the customs to either his own experiences, experiences of people he knows, and even made up examples. These examples helped with understand the customs even more. I definitely recommend this ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I deal with all types of people and this really puts things in perspective. It also clued me in on some of my own personality traits and where they came from. I recommend this educational book especially if you deal with many cultures.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I'm not THAT interested in 'customs of the world' since I don't travel nearly as much as I'd like to and when I do, I tend to pick places that aren't too unfamiliar or culturally different from my own. So I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this series of lectures. I learned a lot more than I expected to and found my curiosity and desire to learn more about other cultures grow as well.

I've done a few Great Courses now and while I enjoy the format, I sometimes find that th
It was an okay course. David Livermore is a great lecturer, professional and responsible. However, I am not sure the topic itself has any value. At least not in a form where you are given tips on how to behave in a "cluster" that is comprised of such countries as Mongolia, Russia, Greece and many more. AND those tips are given to you in 30 minutes. I really don't think it's all that useful: Mongols and Greeks, for all the clustering you try to do, do not belong to the same cultural space.

What I
Jacques Bezuidenhout
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book about Customs / Cultures of the world.
David Livermore does an outstanding job in this lecture series.

Once again the Great Courses books deliver.

There is a lot to be said for understanding why people behave in a certain way. And why doing things you usually do, might offend them.
This book helps shed some light on these areas in different places in the world.
Even if you don't know/understand every culture, just knowing that you should be conscious about certain behaviours will go a long
This series of lectures is divided into two sections. The first sections discusses various traits in cultures and talks in a very general way about which cultures tend to display those traits. Examples of these trait pairs include open versus closed, individualism versus collectivism, neutral versus affective. The second section divides the globe into some broad clusters of like cultures and gives a brief overview of each plus a few "dos and don'ts" for each.

The lecturer is good, but I had hope
I wish I'd read (listened to) this before going to work in Latin America and Asia! ...more
Ben Smitthimedhin
Instead of preparing for my own wedding today, I've decided to write a review of Livermore's lectures on cultural intelligence. I guess doing reviews on goodreads is kind of cathartic in a sense, and I'm hoping it would somehow calm my nerves for the upcoming event. First off, this is an audiobook. Yes, I do feel torn every time I do a review of the Great Courses because I always feel like I'm cheating. But at the same time, I felt it important enough to recommend it to everyone, and also becaus ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting structuring of cultural differences and how they manifest across the world. I was a bit disappointed at first by how much the first half focuses on business, since that is simply not important to me, but I understand that it is important to other people, and luckily, much of it was still applicable in non-business situations, and the second half was much less business-focused. It was well laid out, and informative. A lot of it was a refresher for me, since I took an inter ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished a year of traveling around the globe and I intend to embark on another in half a year. This lecture series has given me an internationally-sensitive and industry-leading *framework of language* for discussing, journaling, and understanding culture. As someone who highly values words and their power, this is a gift that will keep giving. I'm glad to have found this.

I own the audiobook of this through When I feel my attention has wandered, I jump back and re-listen to
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought the first half detailing the different aspects of cultural intelligence was more helpful than describing the 10 clusters in the second. However, the book was very good and I'd recommend it to people both to gain an understanding of different kinds of culture in the world and especially to those planning to travel to other places. ...more
Shaun Majumdar
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
David Livermore provides an excellent explanation of 10 cultural value dimensions and shows how they can be applied to a handful of cultural clusters throughout the world. These cultural dimensions are a continuum, and certain cultures tend to favor one side of it. For instance, there is the individualist vs. collectivist continuum- the United States and other Anglo cultures favor the individualist side, meanwhile the Confucian East Asian cultures fall on the collectivist side. Paired with the o ...more
Brad Belschner
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've found this "course" to be simultaneously very simple and very thought-provoking. Cultural categories like uncertainty avoidance (low vs. high) and power distance (low vs high) are pretty simple when you think about them, but exploring all the implications and how they impact our understanding of the world is fascinating. It's kind of like learning about individual personality differences such as introvert vs. extrovert, or thinking vs. feeling... they're technically simple categories, but t ...more
Vlad Ardelean
The author tries to classify the world into different cultural regions, and to offer some characteristics for each region.

One must take these characteristics with a grain of salt, but the narrative is nice, and also some cultural aspects are interesting.

At the very least, this course made me question some aspects of the culture I grew up in: Eastern Europe and central Asia are supposed to be areas where foreigners are not treated well from the beginning. One can say that indeed, people don't sm
Yelena Dubovaya
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Not bad - but nothing pivotal either.. This book is split into two parts - the first 10 lectures are devoted to the different ways cultures are classified (for example, their relationship to time, or whether they are individualistic or more communal), and the second half covers large regions and discusses how these cultural preferences were shaped based on each region.

I felt that the first half was extremely dry and could have been condensed into far fewer lectures with less explanation. The se
Haoyan Do
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
These lectures are very interesting, although I would like to listen to more anecdotes, historical or personal. There are a lot of explanation of different cultures and "clusters", but only several examples. Sometimes I would wish that the author can explain why people in Thailand are so relaxed and friendly, while they are also big fan of kickboxing and other competitive sports. Probably it is too complicated a psychological question to address in the book.

While I was reading this book, I was
Nilofar Mew
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This will broaden your perspective about the parts of world you probably have ignored till now. The author explains every culture in such a depth with extremely positive insight on every single cultural value and the reasoning behind it.

You would not only know about different culture and people after listening to this, you will also start appreciating the difference.

A must read for all the professionals in this globalized world where there is no longer a limit on what kind of people you will b
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this within a month, that took me longer than it normally would because I also am reading some other books, and it was amazing. There are quite a few things you learn in World History, or Religion class and this book just ties a pretty bow around all that data that was lost somewhere in your mind to remind you of so many aspects to keep in mind in your day to day dealings with people and when traveling abroad as well. It is a good read.
Megan Summers
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an audiobook for me, and I'm glad I listened to it this way. Professor Livermore uses the first half of the book to describe the 10 value dimmensions and how various cultures differ in those areas. In the second half (my favorite) he specifies regions of the world and how their day to day lives emulate these value dimensions. The professor did a great job of scattering examples throughout every chapter to make it really practical. :) ...more
Javin Stanuary
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
My husband and I enjoy other cultures and are generally open minded and fascinated by them. We watch foreign television and movies and read books by authors and about countries that are not the United States. How lucky are we to live in a time where the world has been opened to us in unimaginable ways. Even if you're unable to travel, that doesn't limit you from learning.
This lecture series gives a basic overview with little tidbits about various cultures throughout. However, if you find somethi
Fate's Lady
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Edifying and easy to listen to, this covers the cultural dimensions one must consider when trying to understand a foreign culture. I'd highly recommend this to anyone interesting in world travel or who is just curious about the differences in how people see elemental things about the proper way to behave. ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anyone wishing to travel to various parts of the world and not be ignorant, rather be able to immerse in different cultures and truly appreciate them should read this. It really explains the differences and will help you to better understand where you go and what is appropriate or inappropriate in various parts of the world.
Gergely Szabo
Felt a bit like it's written for Americans. The chapter which I can relate to most, the Eastern European one wasn't very accurate which made me doubt the accuracy of the descriptions of other cultures that I know less about. ...more
Milan Kosanovic
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great and engaging course on cultural intelligence, how and why cultures are different across the world, and the benefits of understanding various cultures.

The speaker speaks fluently and during the 16 hours I did not lose interest or focus on the lectures
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting enough lecture series, and I imagine it would be useful, especially if I were actively traveling or otherwise interacting with other cultures. The best part is the first half, where the lecturer describes different cultural traits. The second half, describing different cultural groups, might have some use as a broad overview, and does work to illustrate how different traits interact with each other, but it has a much shakier foundation. There's a sort of pop anthropology (like pop ...more
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DAVID LIVERMORE, PH.D., is president and partner at the Cultural Intelligence Center and a visiting research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He has done consulting and training with leaders in 100 countries and is the author of Leading with Cultural Intelligence (978-0-8144-1487-3).

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