Cultural Intelligence – What’s your CQ?
We all know what IQ is, right? It’s an attempt to assign a number – a value – to a person’s intellectual ability. In the world of cross-cultural adjustment, cross-cultural agility and cross-cultural effectiveness, we also try to quantify a person’s ability. We want to assign a number to their Cultural Intelligence; their CQ. Let me give you a few definitions of CQ:
- CQ is a consistent predictor of performance and adjustment in multicultural settings. (From CulturalQ).
- CQ is a person’s capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. (From Lynn VanDyne)
- CQ is the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures. (From the Cultural Intelligence Portal)
David Livermore has written on this subject and had summarized the four capabilities that get to the core of a person’s Cultural Intelligence. These factors are similar to those looked at when determining emotional intelligence or social intelligence, but they’re tailored to address the unique challenges faced in multicultural and cross cultural environments. I’ve re-shaped these a bit to try to capture their essence:
CQ Motivation. The person’s interest in and confidence at functioning effectively in culturally diverse settings. Are they eager to interact with people of different cultural backgrounds?
CQ Knowledge. The person’s knowledge of how cultures are similar and different. It includes knowledge about economic and legal systems, norms for social interaction, religious beliefs, aesthetic values, and language in different cultures. Are they aware of their own cultural bias, and alert to others’?
CQ Strategy. How the person goes about making sense of culturally diverse experiences. It reflects the processes individuals use to acquire and understand cultural knowledge. It occurs when people make judgments about their own thought processes and those of others. This includes strategizing before an inter-cultural encounter, checking assumptions during an encounter, and adjusting mental maps when actual experiences differ from expectations. Do they know how to anticipate how people will respond and react to events?
CQ Behavior. A person’s capability to adapt verbal and nonverbal behavior so it is appropriate for different cultures. It includes having a flexible repertoire of behavioral responses that are appropriate in a variety of situations. Are they flexible?
Cross Cultural Lessons for Expats
- When looking at “who will make it” and “who won’t”, it’s not all a mystery! There are measurable, observable characteristics that people demonstrate, showing that they’re in a good position to be effective or that they’re likely to experience a lot of failure.
- Although personality and background play a big part, these ‘intelligences’ can be developed by any willing person. If a person really wants to be effective in culturally diverse contexts, they can work on it, and develop abilities in these areas.
- Often, it’s not until you’re actually in that cross-cultural environment that you begin to learn a lot about your own cultural bias. It’s at that point that you face the biggest challenge: will I learn to understand myself and others, or will I go with the default, all-too-common ethnocentric posture?
- These 4 factors are intertwined. It’s unlikely that you’ll be a “10″ in one of these areas, without being pretty solid in others.
- We’re all pretty poor at seeing ourselves objectively, so get some help: open yourself up to the input and assessment of others.
What do you think? Give your definition of what “cultural intelligence” ought to include.
Come back next week to read the sequel: Cultural Ignorance – What’s your non-CQ?