CrossCulture model of Richard Lewis
Richard Lewis created a model that divides the world into three cultural types. Having visited many and worked in 20 countries, did lots of interviews with his language students. Lewis came to the conclusion that people can be divided into three clear categories based on behavior and style of communication.
The behavior is divided in characteristics and focus points. These are the invisible attributes of a culture; a characteristic is a practical attitude such as whether or not private life is separate from work, while a focus point is something that individuals from that culture focus on in daily life, such as tasks that have to be done or the relationships they have with other people.
Communication styles. Lewis has defined 15 visible forms of communication that have a different style in each culture; the variant that belongs to that culture type is designated for each form. In order to be able to compare the communication styles of the three culture types, Lewis defined visible and tangible communication styles that can be observed in every culture and every person in the world. By seeing what communication style someone uses, it may be approximated as to what type of culture that person has. As a result, tentative conclusions can also be drawn about the characteristics and other communication styles that this person can have. There are a few remarks attached to this because although stereotyping is used, on an individual level people rarely fit the stereotypical image of just one of the three culture types. Communication styles are visible and therefore easily recognizable. Characteristics and focus points are less visible and therefore more difficult to spot.
He called these three types Linear-Active, Multi-Active and Reactive. The model of Lewis is laid out on the basis of the three cultural types. A description of each type is given in succession according to the characteristics and focus points. A characteristic is a practical attitude such as whether or not private life is separate from work, while a focus point is something that individuals from that culture focus on in daily life, such as tasks that have to be done or the relationships they have with other people.
- People with a Linear-Active cultural profile are strongly task-oriented and organized planners. They prefer to do one thing at a time and keep to a tight, linear agenda. Examples of a Linear-Active focus are: doing your job well, finishing your education, doing your homework, buying a house, building a pension, etc. Everything can be translated into tasks because tasks are the most important focus for these people. Facts are important. Linear-Active people stick to facts and figures from reliable, written sources. Life is structured. The truth (based on hard facts) is paramount and must be set forth honestly.
Linear-Active people are rational and practical. They take a practical approach to life and rarely display emotional outbursts. Feelings are partially masked. Time is money and money is important. Good quality products sell themselves. Networking, relying on relationships, giving people gifts etc is not their style; official channels are always preferred.
- Multi-Active people attach great value to the relationships between people. Feeling good about your relationships is more important than things like products, appointments, agendas, contracts and legislation. In a Multi-Active culture, it is mainly about who says or does something and how he or she does this. Time and planning are less important.
If the relationship between people is the main focus, then the intuition for sensing when that feels ‘right’ is also going to be important. The structure of a Multi-Active society is loose in nature. Time is not determined by the clock or the agenda but by the importance of a relationship. Truth has a different meaning for Multi-Active people and since it can harm relationships it is usually ‘open for negotiation’.
- One of the most important things that people from a Reactive culture try to avoid is the loss of face. Confrontations are avoided at all costs. Confrontations lead to a loss of face for everyone involved. From this point of view, relationships with others are important for reactive people. For Reactive cultures this does not usually present a problem in that the other person will be aware of the rules and will do everything they can to keep relationships harmonious. In Reactive cultures the focus is on relationships. Networks, family, business contacts, peers – a great deal of importance is attached to maintaining all these relationships and ensuring that there is no friction anywhere.