Developing Cultural Intelligence in Corporations

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  • 0:01 Nonverbal Gestures
  • 0:47 Cultural Intelligence
  • 1:33 Developing CQ
  • 2:35 CQ in the Workplace
  • 3:16 Benefits of CQ
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Loy

Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master's degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management.

This lesson explores the concept of cultural intelligence. We'll look at what it is, how it can benefit and develop within an organization, and what role employees with a high level of cultural intelligence play in the workplace.

Nonverbal Gestures

You give a thumbs up. You walk barefoot. You touch someone's elbow. You slouch when sitting. You cross your legs. You engage in a handshake. Did you know that in some cultures, these nonverbal gestures are considered an insult? A simple motion can end a business deal that would have made your firm millions of dollars. No one wants to be in that position.

If you stopped and thought for a second about whether these gestures may be inappropriate in some settings, you probably have a pretty high sense of cultural intelligence. Let's look at what cultural intelligence is, how to develop it, and how a high level of cultural intelligence can benefit employees and organizations.

Cultural Intelligence

Being successful in today's business world means knowing how to effectively communicate with diverse groups of people. This is especially true when working internationally. You don't want to mistakenly challenge someone's beliefs or offend a business partner with how you shake hands. You want to make and close the deal.

Individuals with cultural intelligence, or CQ, have the ability to recognize and acclimate to cultural differences. They don't have every aspect of every culture memorized, but they're able to use what they know and are aware of how they should act in certain situations. This skill is extremely important in all types of organizations, especially those that operate internationally and/or have a diverse workforce. Let's look into some ways for improving cultural intelligence.

Developing CQ

Cultural intelligence can be helpful when working in a new environment, with a different team, or traveling abroad. There are several things a person can do to develop cultural intelligence:

  • Develop an interest in other cultures. For example, taking a foreign language class can not only expose you to the language but also multi-cultural social events. This can help improve your social skills.
  • Develop an open mind. It's important to understand that people from different cultures may have different faiths, habits, and interests. An openness to these differences can make you seem more approachable.
  • Develop an understanding of body language. Look for resources that can clue you in about what gestures and expressions may be insulting in different cultures. Try to avoid using them even when communicating on a day-to-day basis. Joining a club that allows you to interact with people from other cultures can be helpful.
  • Join or subscribe to international movie channels, publications, or social networks. Becoming aware of international events can also help you find things in common with colleagues.

CQ in the Workplace

To improve cultural intelligence in the workplace, employers can invite guest speakers and sponsor professional development courses. They can also give gift cards for international movies and restaurants and offer memberships or subscriptions to international organizations or publications.

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