Cultural intelligence (CQ) is defined as an individual’s capability to adapt and function in situations that involves new cultural setting. CQ is regarded a useful tool as it can allow an individual to work in effectively multi-cultural settings. An individual can develop CQ competencies through personal experiences such as travelling/studying abroad, working in a firm that is established from a culture different from their own and also studying the many ways people of different cultures function.
CQ has been conceptualized as having these 4 components: metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioral dimensions (Earley & Ang, 2003). They each play a different role in allowing people to adapt efficiently in cultural different setting. Their roles are:
1) Metacognitive CQ refers to the mental process in which an individual would use when obtaining and understanding things in relation to cultures. Those with high metacognitive CQ are quick to challenge cultural norms and assumptions that are associated with certain cultures.
2) Cognitive CQ refers to the general knowledge of the individual on the other culture’s norms, practices and way of life. This could be acquired through education or personal experiences such as travelling or working abroad.
3) Motivational CQ refers to one’s direction of energy towards learning and functioning in situations where cultural differences and cross-cultural settings are most present and prevalent.
4) Behavioral CQ refers to an individual’s ability to use appropriate verbal and non-verbal behaviors when presented in a cultural diverse setting. They are able to exhibit appropriate words, gestures, tones and actions that are deemed acceptable toward those cultures that they are faced with.
Professor Martha Maznevski (2008) states that cultural intelligence and Emotional intelligence works hand in hand. The New Oxford American Dictionary (2010) defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. EQ coupled with an individual’s high CQ can allow the individual to be aware of the needs and emotions of people that they come in contact with. They are usually more receptive and sensitive to the values and beliefs of people from different cultures. They then can use this skill to communicate and interact with them with a high level of understanding and empathy.
Despite CQ being a new construct and not many studies have been done on it, the many studies that have been done on CQ have shown that individuals with high CQ are more likely to succeed and yield high results in a workspace. These individuals are also able to adapt in situations with diverse cultures as they have an ability to observe and understand each cultures and they will act accordingly and appropriately to better socialize and fit in. They do not base their actions on stereotypes associated with these cultures.