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How Cultural Intelligence can benefit Cultural Diversity


Cultural intelligence refers to behaviour based on the knowledge and skills related to the cultures of employees with whom the manager interacts in the business.  This can range from language skills or other qualities such as tolerance for uncertainty or flexibility which could also be enhanced because of emotional intelligence (see my post on emotional intelligence).

Cultural intelligence is developed by learning about the beliefs, customs and even restrictions of specific cultures as well as showing an understanding of a different culture by blending in. Cultural intelligence consists of four aspects, namely linguistics, spatial, intrapersonal and interpersonal.

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Linguistics refers to successfully interacting with employees from other cultures whose native language is different and thus overcoming any language barriers.  For example, learning some key words or even lingo of another language spoken by employees could create a feeling of unity in the business.

Spatial understanding refers to displaying of behaviour what would facilitate any conversation without an embarrassment.  For example, should you shake the employee's hand or open the door for a female employee?

The intrapersonal  cultural aspect refers to an understanding of the manager's own and unique cultural style.  This insight assists in comparing employees and to make appropriate judgments in situations that may occur in the business.

Interpersonal insight refers to successful interaction with all employees in the business  and to show empathy and an understanding for employees' intentions and desires.

How could you as the manager of a business improve your cultural intelligence? 
  • Be motivated to learn about the different cultures of employees in your business
  • Recognise that there are different viewpoints than your won.
  • Be aware of what is acceptable and what not in other cultures.
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