Five easy tips for developing and improving your Cultural Intelligence (CQ)

July 31, 2020 1:17 am Published by Leave your thoughts

by Malcolm KHOO and Keng Keng TAN
TRANSCultural Group Pte Ltd

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a person’s capability to relate and work effectively in a culturally diverse situation. It is an important aspect of social skills.


Today, beyond sharp IQ and EQ, cultural awareness, empathy, and intelligence (CQ) have become skills thoughtful leaders need to acquire to help them build sustainable businesses and achieve personal success.

Organizational CQ predicts results when working across cultural borders.


According to the Cultural Intelligence Center in the USA, a strong organizational CQ increases the likelihood the organization will accomplish its mission in this globalized and multicultural world. Therefore, it is essential to start developing your CQ whenever you are able, be it in the classroom, during a short overseas trip or your study abroad programs, and eventually at the workplace.

Equip yourself with this skill and thrive in today’s global economy.


Be curious

As children, we are continually asking questions and figuring out the world. It’s important to let our inner child out so that we can learn better. A voracious appetite for knowledge will form the basis of cultural intelligence, which is our CQ Drive. Ask friends to share their cultural stories, life experiences, or find resources online or in books to bolster your cultural awareness. Continue to explore and process new findings wherever they may be. If you savor every moment and treat every cultural interaction as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you will find great value in the lessons you learn.


Practice the “Power of NOW!”

The best learning can be done on the ground so long as you are aware of what is happening around you. Don’t fall into the mental trap of trying to recall what you may have seen and heard all the time; you may miss the forest for the trees. Instead, see what you can learn from the experiences and people in front of you. You might learn more from a person-to-person conversation or interaction than scrolling through
websites online. Be fully present in the situation, and then adapt your behavior and actions per the cues you may observe. Doing so will sharpen your CQ Action.


Keep an open mind

Go into every interaction without any preconceived notions of the person you are meeting; proactively managing your unconscious biases allows you to have a clear head to learn at every opportunity. Embrace the diverse interests, viewpoints, and values that every one of us has to offer. Use your differences to build upon each other to create a holistic, informative experience. By setting aside what you already know, you open yourself to a world of possibilities with the help of others around you. It will certainly be a richer world and help increase your CQ Knowledge.


Stay humble

While essential to recognize and leverage your strengths, being confident does not mean that one should think we know all. A large ego will always get in the way of learning. Stay humble to acknowledge that one is not perfect and that we will make mistakes when dealing with different cultures. Humility is part of a growth mindset that not only encourages others to bond with us but also betters our self-development
in the long run. In a cross-cultural context, staying humble helps to guide good CQ Action and enhance the opportunity to increase CQ Knowledge.


Reflect, reflect, reflect

Self-reflection is something we can apply to every part of our life, but especially important when we have to deal with people or matters unfamiliar to us. Replay the sequence of events and think about what motivated the actions or words of the people involved. Perhaps we made a few faux-pas along the way that we did not notice then? This process helps identify areas of improvement, such as what information we need to gather or how we need to react to the verbal and non-verbal cues unfamiliar to us. Reflection helps in our CQ Strategy; it is a key step to building better future encounters.

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To go far, go together

What better way to practice and develop CQ than to have your friends alongside you? Learning from each other is far more efficient and fun than trying to piece together information on your own. Build a network of friends with different cultural backgrounds. Go for
meals together, rotate the hosts/organizers to feature different cuisine based on the different cultural backgrounds. At mealtime, you can initiate topics by sharing your experiences, values, and opinions. Talk
about how you grew up and what you consider close to heart, and get them to do the same. Get your friends into developing CQ with you, and together, you will all benefit from each other and live a richer life experience. Good Luck!

On this planet, we each play a different role in a different point in time. Every one of us is unique, with different strengths, interests, and ideals. As such, anyone can be a teacher to another. Let’s hope today’s us can be better than yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s us will be better than today’s. We hope you will find the tips shared helpful in developing and improving your Cultural Intelligence (CQ). May your journey be rich, meaningful, and enjoyable.


We develop global talent and help you to be future-ready in this ever-connected world. Whilst taking pride in our own identity, we embrace others’ to enrich our lives!

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This post was written by TransCultural Group

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