What is Cultural intelligence (CQ)?
Cultural Intelligence (or CQ, ‘Cultural Quotient’) indicates a person’s ability to relate to people from other cultures. It goes beyond simply knowing their language. CQ means understanding their ways of thinking and behaviour: verbal and non-verbal communication, beliefs and values, customs and rituals, and other cultural norms different from your own. It means having the capability to adapt and behave appropriately in multicultural settings.
Our Earth is now an interconnected planet. Globalisation has blurred economic, cultural, political, and geographical boundaries. We are becoming aware, as never before, of how many tribes make up our globalised village – multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious, and multi-caste. The traditional concept of a nation-state within a set geographical boundary is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to political, commercial, social, and ideological cross- pollination. No tribe anywhere can now hope to exist alone in a cocoon. Who would have imagined the UK electing an Indian-origin, Hindu Prime Minister?
Today, it is imperative to understand the diverse societal values of people from other cultural moulds, which inform their way of life regarding family, gender roles, faith, hierarchies, professional conduct, etc. These values help explain why others think and act as they do. That, in turn, is a valuable social skill for effective political, economic, or social interactions between people.
CQ is not inherited. It is an acquired skill. A CQ-competent person works effectively across cultures and can adapt to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. S/he will always have a competitive advantage in everything from doing business to social dealings to diplomacy in multicultural contexts.