Don’t get hung up on the ‘C’ word

It’s quite tricky trying to explain Cultural Intelligence (CQ) without people automatically thinking of national/ ethnic norms or differences.

Automatically, many are drawn to questions like, should we bow or shake hands when we meet someone Japanese? Do we look in the eye of someone from the Middle East? Can I give a business gift to an American?

When we talk about “a workplace culture” or hiring for “cultural fit”, we don’t necessarily think about those nationalistic differences then, but somehow, this doesn’t spring to mind when referencing CQ.

But it should.

What is Culture? Culture is what is Acceptable and Familiar, or as I’ve heard in several workshops recently, “how we do things around here”.

CQ is about all cultures: organisational, generational, neurodivergent, beard-wearing, goths, cancer-sufferers, unicorn lovers, and of course the list is endless.

And of course, what is Acceptable and Familiar to me, may not be Acceptable and Familiar to you, because we are diverse.

Everyone is diverse. Everyone. To talk about “Diversity” as if it is something that only refers to some and not others is a fallacy.

Being inclusive, “Inclusion” is the key to being welcoming to everyone/diversity. CQ is the best method to use in order to ensure Inclusion is happening properly.

With high CQ,  going beyond existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness,  individuals and organisations can successfully and respectfully accomplish their objectives, whatever the cultural context – where ‘culture’ is defined as above.

CQ is measurable, which is what makes it such a useful tool.

Here’s a reminder of the four capabilities. Not only are each measurable, but there are sub-dimensions of each capability which are measurable, so anyone who takes a CQ Assessment can be sure which areas they need to work on, to improve, to ultimately be better at inclusion.

So, don’t get hung up on the word Culture, or Cultural.

What CQ can do is make you a better individual at understanding diversity in it’s fullest form and through that understanding, working and living with an open-mind and an open personality.