Skip links

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence relates to emotional intelligence but it picks up where emotional intelligence leaves off. A person with high emotional intelligence grasps what makes us human and at the same time what makes each of us different from each other. People with high emotional intelligence can pick up on the emotions, wants and needs of others. Those with high cultural intelligence are attuned to the values, beliefs, attitudes and body language of people from different culture and they use this knowledge to interact with empathy and understanding.

People with high cultural intelligence are not experts in every culture rather they use observation, empathy and intelligence to read people and situations and to make informed decision about why others are acting as they are. They use cultural intelligence to observe what is happening and adapt their own behaviour accordingly instead of making quick judgments or relying on stereotypes. Sometimes people who are detached from their own culture can more easily adopt and adapt to other cultures.

Although some aspects of cultural intelligence are innate, anyone reasonably alert, motivated and poised can attain an acceptable level of cultural intelligence. People who are interested in what shapes a particular culture are likely to adapt well to it. A person who does not believe herself capable of understanding people from unfamiliar cultures will give up after their efforts meet hostility or incomprehension.

Cultural knowledge is not about learning a new culture inside out rather it means learning about how culture in general shapes someone’s behaviour, values and beliefs. It is important to learn about how a culture’s history affects people’s values and actions.

Cross cultural interactions will not always go smoothly so it is 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. This will give you a deeper understanding of them and help you interact with them in a better way.

In a global world where problems cross borders between cultures, we need leaders who can cross those boundaries and cross cultures too; people who can communicate effectively and build diverse networks necessary to solve messy problems. These are leaders with cultural intelligence. Culturally intelligent people can use their ability to adapt to different cultures and to understand people’s values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours to communicate, collaborate and negotiate with people from diverse backgrounds. 

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.