Student Article / Academic

Cultural Intelligence: The Elixir for a Healthy Global Community

Cultural Intelligence: The Elixir for a Healthy Global Community

Assistant Editor

06 Jul, 2019

The close bond between Cognitive, Emotional and Cultural Intelligence

We are very familiar with the term Culture? What is Culture exactly? Humans by nature are social animal and culture is a term that refers to a large and various set of most intangible aspects of human life like that of values, beliefs, language and communications and many other practices that people living in different geographical locations live by. Culture is not just about impalpable but also includes the material objects that are common within the specific cultural group or society. Though culture is distinct from social structural and economic aspects of the society however, they still are connected and both these aspects continually keep exchanging information between themselves.

Culture is one of the most important concepts within sociology as culture plays a very crucial role in our social lives. Cultural is important as it shapes social relationships, maintains the social order, and helps us make sense of the world that we are living in and our own place in it. Culture also shapes our everyday activity and experiences in the society and composes of both impalpable and the palpable things.

Human life is complex, and over the years as humans evolved different aspects of life both material and non-material formed the basis of different cultures that humans today live by. Expanding on these categories, culture is made up of human knowledge, assumptions and expectations and common sense as well as the norms and rules and morals that have been set up and being followed as a result of various life experiences that are common to everyone living within that society or group in specific geographical locations. There are also a material aspect of culture that is varied and specific to certain culture and society and more specifically to the geographical locations, like food habits, the way people dress, build their homes as well as how they express themselves in terms of arts, literature, festivals, music amongst others. These material aspects of cultures are more commonly known or referred to as cultural product. Both the material and non-material aspects of human lives are interconnected. The connection between these two are not one sided, both influence each other. For instance, a documentary on myth and reality which is material culture might change the perception that societies have had about certain subject, and these perceptions are non-material and intangible.

Humans are endowed with cognitive intelligence. What do we understand by that? It is the general mental ability amongst many other human abilities that helps humans to reason, understand, plan and solve problems. Cognitive intelligence helps us to think abstractly, study and comprehend complex human ideas, learn from different experiences and retain those experiences to solve problems. Added to this is the emotional intelligence, and both have very important role to play in how we grow and conduct ourselves in a society. While cognitive intelligence helps us to find ways of solving problems it is the emotional intelligence that actually helps us deal with the issue in hand, control stress and emotion. It is also a great influential factor in teamwork, cooperation that is fundamental to achieving success in all aspects of life whether family, societal or professional. It is also said that high levels of emotional intelligence experiences lead to greater success rates and help build better relationship.

There is such a close relation between these three life components, Cognitive, Emotional and Cultural Intelligence that it is aptly phrased by columnist of Inc. Wanda Thilbodeaux, “Emotional Intelligence Has a New Cousin!!” and describes the reason why we need to understand this new cousin more in today’s scenario. 

Talking about accomplishment and success in life especially in today’s world where we are more connected than ever before one very important term that we often come across is Cultural Intelligence. What is cultural intelligence or CQ? Well Cultural Intelligence is the human ability to successfully work with many different cultures across the globe. As we had discussed earlier how different cultures were formed depending upon various life experiences in different geographical locations across the globe. Cultural intelligence includes the ability to understand the different way how people communicate with each other across cultures, their etiquettes, food habits, dressing and many other customs.

Why is Cultural Intelligence important? Even though cognitive intelligence is necessary for success but it isn't complete in itself without emotional intelligence as we can never isolate both of these emotions in human life. Only cognitive intelligence will make us very robotic and that isn't applicable to humans as emotions play a great role in how humans perform in all aspects of life. Never before were we more connected across the globe as we are today and the success of any endeavor between different countries and its people, business, work, and the ability to set and accomplish goals can greatly be achieved when we have strong cultural intelligence. 

Phil Shawe, CEO of translation company Transperfect believes that even though we place great importance on emotional intelligence, as it ensures strong interpersonal relationships between business groups. We also put emphasis on success intelligence, which helps us set goals, but none of these intelligence can get us as far as Cultural Intelligence can as Cultural Intelligence or CQ is a rating of ones ability to work successfully across different cultures.

Cultural intelligence does not mean having just theoretical knowledge about different cultures but to interpret the knowledge through emotional intelligence which will greatly help us understand and accept,

. The way people communicate with each other across cultures.

. Understand how different countries have different business protocols, and etiquettes.

. Have a better understanding of the different rules and regulations, business frameworks that exists in different parts of the world.

Cultural Intelligence with a combination of both cognitive and a good measure of emotional intelligence and is the key to global collaborations and business successes. Increased connectivity across all companies and individuals is a positive change and it means we now have a greater access to resources, talent and knowledge offering a very dynamic work place which transcends geographical boundaries. However, this also brings gaps in terms of understanding different cultures and customs that are now being exposed a lot more regularly that not just can, but has divided and affected the work environment, working relationships and other aspects of business thus impacting the quality of work delivered. No  matter how culturally diverse a workplace environment is people from different cultures and geographical locations often have or foster perceptions and perspectives because they are not culturally intelligent enough which can lead to frictions in the workplace. 

Cultural Quotient allows individual not just gather knowledge about different cultures but also gain a better emphatic understanding of cultures that enables individuals to work in a positive and compassionate way with people from different regions of the world and from different ethnic cultures. Cultural Intelligence or Cultural quotient is thus necessary for developing more advance knowledge of different nationalities, their traditions, their business and corporate cultures and gaining insight into the ways how to develop language for cross cultural communications and behaviors in a professional environment that makes it conducive not just for good business but healthy human interactions and long term relationships.

Whichever way we look at the world today, with global warming, the occurrences of frequent natural disasters across the globe, threat to human life and security, climate change, loss of natural habitats of species, it has become a priority that we equip ourselves with the knowledge about different cultures, understand why and where they are coming from, find common grounds so that we can help save this human race and the only place we call home, the Earth. 

By: Madhuchanda Saxena