What Is Cultural Intelligence?

In thinking about cross-cultural competence, it is essential to understand that it is unlike other competencies. To become cross-cultural competent, one must embrace two components:

  • The ability to learn about another culture which is cultural competence (CC).
  • The ability to use what one knows which is cultural intelligence (CQ).

Many believe that being Cross-cultural competence is the knowledge of or recitation of cultural “facts” about people of other nations. On the other hand, others feel it is having the language skills of a given region.

Although both are important in developing cross-cultural competence; they are not sufficient. This piece of the puzzle only focuses on Cultural Competence, not cultural intelligence.

Competence vs. Intelligence

Cultural competence involves gaining an understanding of the crucial aspects of a new and unfamiliar culture. However, to be cross-cultural competence, you must incorporate cultural intelligence into your daily routine.

Cultural intelligence is the understanding to quickly, comfortably, and effectively work with people from different cultures.

Culture is the context and not the task itself. It is a framework for understanding what behaviors or skills to leverage, and which to minimize depending on the degree of the situation.

As a result, operating effectively across cultures is based, in large part, on an individual’s ability to tailor such skills and behaviors based on cues from their surroundings.

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