Cultural Intelligence in the Workspace

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Cultural intelligence (CQ) is defined as an individual’s capability to adapt and function in situations that involves new cultural setting. CQ is regarded a useful tool as it can allow an individual to work in effectively multi-cultural settings. An individual can develop CQ competencies through personal experiences such as travelling/studying abroad, working in a firm that is established from a culture different from their own and also studying the many ways people of different cultures function.
CQ has been conceptualized as having these 4 components: metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioral dimensions (Earley & Ang, 2003). They each play a different role in allowing people to adapt efficiently in cultural different setting. Their roles are:
1) Metacognitive CQ refers to the mental process in which an individual would use when obtaining and understanding things in relation to cultures. Those with high metacognitive CQ are quick to challenge cultural norms and assumptions that are associated with certain cultures.
2) Cognitive CQ refers to the general knowledge of the individual on the other culture’s norms, practices and way of life. This could be acquired through education or personal experiences such as travelling or working abroad.
3) Motivational CQ refers to one’s direction of energy towards learning and functioning in situations where cultural differences and cross-cultural settings are most present and prevalent.
4) Behavioral CQ refers to an individual’s ability to use appropriate verbal and non-verbal behaviors when presented in a cultural diverse setting. They are able to exhibit appropriate words, gestures, tones and actions that are deemed acceptable toward those cultures that they are faced with.
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