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How to build cultural intelligence

cultural intelligence

Cultural intelligence, or CQ, is a real asset to anyone working in today’s complex and dynamic business world. Developing CQ allows you to bridge differences and close knowledge gaps, enabling you to take advantage of the wide range of skills, knowledge and resources made available by an intercultural workforce. This brings huge benefits to both you and the business.

Why is cultural intelligence so important?

Is your team located across multiple sites globally? Are you working with international partners or suppliers? Do you work in a diverse, multicultural office? We live and work in a world that is increasingly more intercultural and requires greater communication and relationship-building across cultures. Developing your cultural intelligence enables you to recognise and adapt to different working styles, which ultimately facilitates greater collaboration and more effective problem solving.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you develop your CQ:

  • Working cross-culturally. The best way to develop your CQ is through life experience. Taking advantage of any opportunities that allow you to work cross-culturally will give you the best chance to develop CQ. Through experiential learning, you will be able to recognise cultural difference and identify ways to adapt.
  • Build self-awareness. Gaining greater awareness of own working style will help you to observe different ways of thinking and behaving in other cultures. Take a moment to reflect on how you prefer to work. Are you direct or indirect in your communication? Do you prefer to address or avoid conflict? Simply being aware of your own approach in the workplace will help you to recognise that everyone has a different way of working.
  • Professional development. Training and education offer you and your team the opportunity to explore concepts such as CQ and engage in activities that encourage its continued development, particularly for teams that rely on cross-cultural collaboration to achieve business outcomes. Individual coaching can also provide a valuable platform for discussion of your own personal working style and how that might differ in other cultures, and to develop personalised strategies specific to your working context.
  • Be curious. Curiosity enables you to engage with other cultures through more meaningful social interactions and insightful observations. Studies show that curiosity reduces anxiety, boosts achievement and increases empathy. An inquisitive approach will grant you a better understanding of other cultures and how our culture shapes the way we work.

Cultural intelligence, or CQ, is one of the most important skills to have in today’s global workplace. Taking the extra steps to enhance your CQ will not only benefit you as an individual, but your team as well.

If you or your clients want to learn more about cultural intelligence in the workplace, contact us at

International Consultants Centres run intercultural programs for individuals, families and teams to support them to work successfully across cultures. Our programs include access to online e-learning tools such as CultureConnector and we focus on building participants’ country knowledge and cultural intelligence as well as providing strategies to work effectively across cultures.

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Contact ICC to discuss how our tailored-to-suit intercultural services and cultural training programs can help.