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Challenge Day 23: The Benefits of Cultural Intelligence

Editor’s note: This is part of 30-day challenge series written by Hanane Anouna.   You can follow along and read the full series here.

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Cultural intelligence is strictly related to emotional intelligence. People with high emotional intelligence are able to connect easily with others and understand their feelings. Being aware of our emotions can also help incorporate these awareness to interpret certain behaviors and take the appropriate decision.

A lot of research proved that more than 40% of failures of expat assignments are due to cross-cultural challenges and their incapacity to adapt to the new environment.

Cultural Intelligence is not another buzz word, but a skill that can create more harmony within your relations and improve your communication.

How to Develop Your Cultural Intelligence

1. Acquire the appropriate knowledge: how people communicate in other cultures, how do they use space or time, how to give feedback, what are their core values that may interfere with the decisions you make. This also involves your motivation to search for information and learn about others.

Be conscious of the differences of your counterparts. If you have a meeting with someone in India, and you come 10 minutes late, you will understand that it is not considered late. To learn more about these differences, you can use multiple sources such as books, videos, or friends from different cultures.

2. Be Mindful: mindfulness can help you raise your understanding and avoid misinterpretation or judgments. It is important in certain situations to step back until you get to know and analyze the situation. Observation is key at this level.

3. Your behavior will set the tone of your reaction: be open to explore the difference.  Showing understanding may not be enough to calm down a situation, but your actions should give evidence to your adaptability to the new culture.

Organizations have also internal cultures, and being aware of the environment you are in will help you decipher the cultural code and adaptation can be experienced easily.

What Are the Benefits of Cultural Intelligence

Developing cross-Cultural Skills has an impact on our growth at the personal and the professional level:

1. Tolerance: is not something that you display on your face to facilitate your social integration, or a smile to maintain your professional benefits. Tolerance comes from our acceptance to our differences. It is nurtured by our willingness to accept and learn from the others and not to judge them on the basis of their external shapes or religions.

Tolerance can be an open gate to a variety of opportunities as intolerance can be a closed door to your evolution and growth.  How many judgments we hold in our minds until we meet someone and we realize how far it was from our first perceptions?  

2. Great relations: when relations are based on tolerance and mutual respect, the impact can be rewarding from both sides. A lack of respect to these cultural differences can turn into violating others’ rights. We may have all experienced examples reflecting a lack of respect due to the origin of the person and not his or her attitude.

If you would like to build great relations, you may need to exercise cultural intelligence. But it takes a lot of openness and curiosity to engage with others even when you don’t know them. 

3. Adaptability: how many of you are eager to prepare a meeting in a variety of formats when people from different countries are involved? are you able to adapt your communication style or are you expecting an effort from the other one?

Adaptability has become one of the top soft skills needed nowadays. It requires humbleness and genuineness to adapt your behavior particularly when you are not forced to do so.

At the organisational level, embracing a strategy of adaptation and not standardization, involves a complete business plan that should take into accounts the cultural aspects of the country and the actions to be implemented. The main challenge a business may face is the degree of adaptation regarding its operations. They may not be able to adapt the products but they may opt for an adaptation at the level of communication.

4. Empathy: happens when you put yourself in a culturally different person´s shoes and look at the the situation from his or her perspective. Understanding other’s feelings can improve our daily interactions and decrease our stress.

A successful cultural adaptation does not come from a sophisticated training plan but from hiring the right people with the right attitudes.

People who are comfortable with diversity, and tolerance, and able to go beyond biases and judgments. People who know how to embrace the right attitude when challenged.

About Hanane Anoua

Based in Morocco, Hanane Anoua is a certified life and executive coach, mentor, entrepreneur, and passionate writer with more than 13 years of professional experience. You can connect with Hanane on LinkedIn here.




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