Cultural intelligence

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Inspiration, Work.

I leave and work in a rich international environment and the effort to understand others cultural backgrounds, beliefs and attitudes are very important for me to excel.

One will assume that this issue should not arise in the world we live in today because of our vast knowledge of different cultures. Unfortunately or fortunately enough this is not the case. Cultural intelligence is not being an expert in every culture; rather, the observation, empathy, and intelligence to read people and situations and to make informed decisions about why others are acting as they are makes one a far richer person.

Cultural intelligence is someone’s ability to adapt successfully to a new cultural setting.

People with high cultural intelligence are attuned to the values, beliefs, and attitudes of people from different cultures; and they use this knowledge to interact with empathy and understanding.

Building cultural intelligence helps you work effectively with people who are different from you. Whether you are working in a area that is not of your origin or leading a cultural diverse team, it can mean the difference between success and failure, and the difference between solving problems and creating them.

Failure to work with other people based on their cultural background is a hindrance on positive development. When you include and integrate different cultures in your team, you can be assured of a predictor of strong job performance and effective results.

Culturally intelligent people use this knowledge they gain to communicate, collaborate, and negotiate with people from diverse backgrounds.

  • To accomplish this you need to have a drive- Drive is your motivation to learn about and adapt to a different culture. People who aren’t interested in what shapes a particular culture are unlikely to adapt well to it. Think of what happens when you make an effort to learn about this new culture. Your mind is open, and, instead of seeing difference as a difficulty, you see it as something that you want to learn about.
  • Knowledge – cultural knowledge isn’t about learning a new culture inside out. Rather, it means learning about how culture in general shapes someone’s behaviors, values, and beliefs. It’s important to learn about how a culture’s history affects people’s values and actions. Even a basic understanding of past events can give you more of an insight into people’s values and behaviors, and it will help you avoid obvious faux pas.
  • Strategy – This involves taking what you have learned from being aware of cultural differences, and making robust, culturally sensitive plans as a result. Once in a while you will need to question your assumptions about why things happen differently in different cultures. This is part of their cultural heritage.
  • Action – Cultural intelligence relates to how you behave, and, in particular, how well you adapt when things don’t go according to plan. Cross-cultural interactions won’t always go smoothly, so it’s helpful to be able to think on your feet, and to stay in control of your emotions.

When observing a different culture, pay close attention to what people say and do. For example, explore their voice intonations, body language, and conversation style. This will give you a deeper understanding of them, and help you interact with them in a better way.

If it can work for me, then it can surely work for you as well.


  1. bendix says:

    True,and believe that people always come with the best intentions,that helps communication.

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