Cultural Intelligence is everything you need to reap the benefits of diversity. It will make you a success abroad and help you understand, manage – and enjoy – cross cultural encounters on your home turf.
You need Cultural Intelligence to succeed in ventures like these:
- Intercultural teamwork
- Diversity management
- International sales
- Global marketing
- Intercultural relationships and marriage
- Cross cultural friendships
- Expatriate living and working
So what is Cultural Intelligence?
Imagine drawing a circle around your neighborhood and limiting your life to the inside of that circle. Your entire life experience would revolve around the people, foods, books, news and even Internet created inside that circle, with no exposure to anything from the outside. How would that affect your knowledge of the world?
It would be as tiny as your circle: you would have a very narrow definition of “normal”, as well as what’s good, bad, right and wrong, true and false. But expand your circle, expand your knowledge and your definitions will change.
Cultural Intelligence is all about stretching your circle to broaden your knowledge and transform your world view. It’s about culture in general, your culture in particular and the specific cultures you are interested in.
Cultural Intelligence is also about skill – or whole sets of skills. These are the practical skills we must develop to communicate, enjoy, work, love, live, share and bond with people who are radically different from us, or perhaps similar on the surface but different underneath.
Cultural Intelligence also involves personality traits like flexibility, humility, empathy, openness and sense of humor. We love to believe we possess these traits, but the real test is when we meet people whose most precious values, beliefs and customs clash with ours.
Let’s be honest: diversity has many benefits, but it also involves many challenges. As humans we naturally tend to favor likeness and we seek to surround ourselves with people who are similar to ourselves. That’s where Cultural Intelligence comes in; to reap the benefits of diversity, we must cultivate the knowledge, skill and traits we need to live and work together in peace.