How Culturally Intelligent Are You?

For those of us who have been “career expatriates” for a while, we can tell you that just because you have worked and lived in India for 6 years does not necessarily mean that you would transition easily into China, for example. In many cases, if you were like me, you would still feel like a bull in a china shop!

While most of the skills and lessons learned you garner from your previous postings are useful as reference or starting points in the initial starting line of your new posting, you find that you will have to re-learn or un-learn some things as well because the context you are dealing with is different – the people, the norms and cultural nuances in daily routines, the way negotiations are done, even how you negotiate traffic in Cairo is vastly different if you now live in Jakarta. Certainly, the art of trust-building differs from one region to the next.

How you adapt and evolve across the cultural terrains like a chameleon, is essentially dependent on how “culturally intelligent” you are, or how much CQ™ you possess. That is the “X” factor that makes or breaks your multi-cultural experience, be it at the workplace or in your daily life at your outpost.

CQ™ is multi-faceted and each facet can be developed and nurtured over time:

  • CQ Knowledge (CQ1)  – What you know about the culture
  • CQ Meta Knowledge (CQ2)  – How do you process and plan to use the information about the new culture
  • CQ Motivation (CQ3) – Why do you bother or even want to adapt in cross cultural environment
  • CQ Behaviours (CQ4) – What are the cross-cultural behaviours you exhibit to bridge cultures

Channeling your CQ is key to unlocking cross-cultural relationships and building emotional trust with locals and enhance your overall experience working and living in cross-cultural environments. Yet, you still need to make the first step of WANTING to put past your notions about that new culture and DESIRING to learn to be more culturally intelligent.

“If we are going to live with our deepest differences then we must learn about one another.”
― Deborah J. LevineMatrix Model Management System: Guide to Cross Cultural Wisdom