Cultural Intelligence – How do we get there? CQ Action

After improving our CQ DRIVE, increasing our CQ KNOWLEDGE, developing our CQ STRATEGY, we then need to put that strategy and knowledge into CQ ACTION. We cannot take in information without a response of action. We are created to respond to learning and knowledge by doing something to reach out to others. It is also taking time to intentionally think through our reactions to those around us, what our responses might be and how to change them so we are more supportive to the others we are reaching out to.

CQ Action (behavior) is your ability to adapt when relating and working interculturally, the degree to which one can appropriately change your verbal and nonverbal actions when a cross-cultural situation requires it.  Ultimately, people judge your CQ based upon how you behave.

Let’s walk through the sub-dimensions of CQ Action.

Speech acts are the ways you share information based upon the cultural context. For example, the way you cast vision, the way you offer a compliment, or the way you share constructive feedback should differ based upon the audience.

For example, some cultures are more direct in their negative feedback: “You did xyz wrong.” And other cultures will tip-toe around the topic. Americans talk about sandwiching their negative comments. First, they will say something nice; then throw in what needs to be improved using positive language; then they will say something nice again. People coming from direct language cultures often will wonder what they need to change, if anything. They won’t pick up the negative feedback when sandwiched in the middle of positive words.

Verbal communication refers to how much you adapt things like your volume, rate of speech, and level of enthusiasm when talking cross-culturally.

I can remember my mom coming to visit us in Germany in the mid-1980s. We went to a restaurant. Of course, the waiter only spoke German. My mom spoke only English. When she saw she was not understood, instead of letting me do the translating of her order, she increased her volume. How often have you thought understanding was just a volume issue? Or speaking more quickly?

And non-verbal communication is adapting behaviors such as your facial expressions, your use of gestures, or the way you dress. An example could be how you greet people. Do you bow when you greet someone? It will depend on where you are coming from.

Learning the gestures of a culture are extremely important. Americans may think a certain gesture is fine whereas it may be a curse in another culture. Facial and hand gestures are different around the world. Be careful!!

One of the crucial things to understand is that we shouldn’t always adapt our behavior. At best, it can look humorous, at worse, it can look insulting. The same is true for an organization.

It’s good to think through when we should adapt and when we shouldn’t. How do we know? What are the criteria to decide that? It is good to think that through before you are in a cross-cultural situation. Determine whether a culture is “tight” – very strict in its expectations in relationships – or “loose” – a bit more flexible where mistakes might be less offensive.

Spend some time reflecting on how you can improve your CQ Action. When engaging in a cross-cultural interaction, determine if it’s a “tight” or “loose” culture and adjust your behaviors accordingly. And like the previous slide, always ask yourself if adapting will compromise you or your organization. text-in^$�G

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