HOW DOES CULTURE INFLUENCE OUR INTELLIGENCE AT WORKPLACE?
The very essence of a person lies in their culture. Everything we do, everything we see, perceive, interpret and understand has a cultural link attached to it. How we behave (verbally and non-verbally) has, in many ways, got to do with the culture we have been brought up into. The world that we live in today, thanks to the ever increasing growth in technology and science, has become quite interconnected. We no longer have to travel to another country in order to experience or live another culture. While on one hand, experiencing different cultures has become rather easy, on the other hand, what comes as a problem now is what is known as a culture shock.
WHAT IS CULTURE SHOCK? HOW TO TACKLE IT?
Culture shock is a feeling that arises when you experience a new culture that is not familiar to you. It is a sense of anxiety or confusion that an individual experiences from being out of touch with their familiar culture and environment. Culture shock takes place through four stages:
One of the best examples of acceptance and tolerance that I can give to you, is the country we are living in – India. India is the melting pot of different cultures making it the 3rd largest multicultural country in the world. Us Indians are experts at knowing how to adjust with different cultures. Now what if I tell you that we can extend our existing knowledge to include more cultures and countries outside of India? That’s right! The tool that will help us not only adjust better in our own multicultural country but also out in the world is Cultural Intelligence.
WHAT IS CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE?
The concept of cultural intelligence was first introduced by Professors Christopher Earley and Soon Ang in their book “Cultural Intelligence: Individual Interactions Across Cultures,” in 2003. They defined it as “the person’s ability to adapt to new cultural settings.” It refers to how well we can adapt and display our behaviour through spoken as well as unspoken (body) language by making use of qualities such as tolerance and flexibility, in face of diversity.
Cultural Intelligence, also known as Cultural Quotient (CQ), is very similar and related to Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ). We are all well aware about EQ and the important role it plays in our lives. CQ picks up where EQ leaves off. Someone with a high emotional quotient will be able to understand their own emotions as well as those of others. In a room full of people, someone with a high EQ will be able to gauge some understanding about the emotional state of others, if not fully, simply by observing their facial expressions, their body language and perhaps the way they are communicating. Such is the case with cultural intelligence. A high CQ enables us to understand what traits, qualities and behaviours are innate to us and which are driven largely by our culture.It provides us with the capability to filter out from a person’s or a group’s behaviour, features that are true to all people and groups, features that are distinct to a particular person or a group and features that are neither universal nor peculiar. To simplify it, it provides us with an understanding of what unites and separates us as humans. However, a high CQ calls for a lot of introspection and relearning.
A person with a high CQ makes use of all of the aforementioned elements to introspect and modify their behaviours. Without engaging in quick judgements or falling back on stereotypes, the individual can translate what is happening in any cultural setting and modify their behaviour accordingly.
DEVELOPING CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE FOR LEADERSHIP
There are approximately seven billion people on this planet and they all belong to a myriad of different cultures. Despite these differences, we all live together in what is known as a ‘global village.’ Conceptualised by a Canadian thinker, Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, the term global village talks about the events that feel like they are occurring in the neighbouring street but in reality are taking place thousands of miles away. We find ourselves in this global village everytime we make that zoom call to a client on the other side of the world or when we conduct trades and transactions with anyone across borders. Whether we know it or not, we are all caught up in this global village, living an extensively increasing global lifes. However, amongst us all, it's the managers and the leaders who have to be more global and are in a way driving this global village. How do they do that? How can they become better leaders and conquerors of the world? The answer is simple – Cultural Intelligence.
Cultural intelligence in a work setting can be viewed in one of the two ways. It can either be viewed as the individual’s abilities and skills to settle in and adjust quickly with minimal efforts and stress due to their extensive interactions in cultures other than the ones they grew up socialising in, or as behaviours that are considered to be “intelligent” in other cultures. With more and more companies aiming towards building international connections and having global tie ups, it is needless to say cultural intelligence is important. Having a high CQ has become more of a necessity rather than a luxury.
Think about it. When the opportunity to handle a new project overseas arises, who do you think your boss will select? Someone who will use up company's time and resources trying to adjust to the new environment and new culture or someone who is already well equipped in doing so and therefore will utilise those same resources in enhancing the growth of the company? The answer is right in front of you!
WHAT DOES CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE AT WORKPLACE LOOK LIKE?
Cultural Intelligence in organizations can look like the following:
As vital as developing cultural intelligence is, it can be quite an overwhelming process, especially if one attempts at doing that all by themselves. To make the process more enriching and less scary, it is always better to ask for help from the experts. SBT brings to you one such enriching workshop on cross-cultural training wherein our trained, professional experts hold your hand while you take the first step on the journey of becoming culturally intelligent.