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Cultural Intelligence and Its Importance in the Workplace

cultural intelligence

The internet has made it possible to communicate at one click of a button. Emails and video conferencing have allowed information to be transferred regardless of the time and location. It is now possible talk to someone living in another country from the comfort of your home or office. Many companies are also accepting foreign talents to grow their business.

Working in a culturally diverse environment, however, makes it easy to forget that the people you are dealing with have perceptions and perspectives different from yours. Developing a sense of cultural intelligence is important to learn how to deal positively with people from different cultures. Enhancing cultural intelligence is possible and doing so will allow you to become more compassionate and sensitive to other people.

Cultural intelligence also plays a huge role in determining cooperation among people from various corporate cultures, traditions, nationalities, disciplines, functions and cultures. Bridging cultural differences can make or break your business. Developing and enhancing cultural intelligence may not be an easy feat. It is a process where people slowly gain a new perspective and insight to new professional methods and language that will let them develop better solutions when it comes to cross cultural situations.

Benefits of Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Creating productive relationships based on giving importance to people’s differences

  • Communicating effectively in different cultural settings

  • Establishing a common ground

  • Maximizing teamwork in groups where people act and think differently

  • Differences can be used to improve innovation processes and assess intercultural communication

  • Maximizing corporate brand investment

  • Providing tools for improving sales success, people performance and brand image

  • Encouraging people to be the best they can be

  • Offering insights to better understand international colleagues and clients

In other words, developing cultural intelligence helps an organization gain a competitive edge in whatever industry they are in.

How to Enhance the Level of Cultural Intelligence in Your Workplace

Cultural intelligence is an important aspect in your professional and everyday life. Building compassion between colleagues and clients of different cultural backgrounds and nationalities can be done by developing personal attributes that boost your quality of life, personal and corporate reputation and customers’ experience. There are various ways to improve the level of cultural intelligence in your workplace. Some of them are:

  • Create a common ground – There are cultures that different from yours, but it is important to keep in mind that humans still share some basic traits. A different culture may have the same cultural practices as yours. Finding a common ground allows you to better understand another person and eliminate barriers in communication. You can talk to people from another culture and get to know them better.

  • Avoid stereotyping – Stereotyping is a common practice. It gives you a profile of another person, but it can be dangerous as it can lead to making negative and unfounded assumptions. What you need to remember is that people from different cultures have their own practices and beliefs that may different from your own. Try to understand and judge a person on his own worth instead of assessing him from a cultural point of view.

  • Keep learning – You learn new skills such as managing your stress, motivating yourself and enhancing your emotional intelligence. Learning about other cultures should be included in your list as well. You can always do this by searching the web or talking to other people in your workplace. The internet is a great source of information and you can use it to learn something new about a different culture like their cultural behaviors and practices. You might even get some interesting facts that can be useful in dealing with people from different cultures.

  • Be aware and accepting – Awareness and acceptance are important factors in developing cultural intelligence. Being aware allows you to become more mindful of the practices and habits of people from another culture. Acceptance of their cultural practices shows your sense of empathy as to who they really are and how you see them. The way you treat another person will also reflect on how that person sees you. Accepting other cultures will enhance your level of empathy, which will help you become a true culturally intelligent individual.

Trying different foods unique to another culture is also a great way to understand other people. Aside from satisfying your taste buds, the way they prepare their special delicacies may give you an idea about their traditions. This is also a great way to meet new people and establish great relationships.

Reasons to Develop Cultural Intelligence

There can be two reasons to develop cultural intelligence – to gain cultural diversity or to successfully enter the international markets. Here are other reasons why it is important to develop cultural intelligence:

  • Attitude is the most important factor in developing and improving cultural intelligence. A xenophobic attitude accentuates prejudice and lack of ability to communicate positively with people from another culture.

  • Attempts to work together are hindered by different languages, preferences and understanding of the situation.

  • Maximizing the benefits of the variety of perspective and knowledge is impossible if people are not aware of cultural differences across different disciplines and are not willing to understand other cultures.

Regardless of the reason, developing and enhancing cultural intelligence require:

  • Understanding of the real meaning of cultural intelligence and why it is the competitive advantage you need to succeed

  • Determining major cross-cultural communication skills to improve employee engagement

  • Developing genuine intercultural skills to enhance customer relationships

  • Presenting and marketing your business as a unique international brand

Cultural intelligence is a crucial skill in today’s world. As we are working and living in a multicultural community, acquiring a different set of perspectives, knowledge and skills is important in order to succeed. You need to be prepared to communicate and work with people from different backgrounds, races and cultures. Gaining knowledge about other cultures is no longer optional. It is necessary in order to learn, understand and deal with different situations competently.

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