Your CQ can be as important as your IQ
Few subjects are as massive and complex as culture. Here’s how the American Heritage English Dictionary leads off its definition of the term: “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.” The “all other products” qualifier would strain the resources of most anyone’s cultural quotient, or CQ, which global-competence researchers, Linn Van Dyne, Soon Ang and Christine Koh, interpret as an individual’s “capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity.”
Diversity, of course, at least according to the U.S. Department of the Interior, roundly refers to “many demographic variables, including, but not limited to, race, religion, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, education, geographic origin, and skill characteristics.” Yes, as it turns out, culture is probably the most elaborate, multifaceted, omnipresent and difficult subject in the human condition. Just getting through the first couple paragraphs of this quiz opener requires a glossary of sorts.
For the purposes of this quiz, which will begin shortly, culture will be sighted and united by nations. Geert Hofstede, a Dutch pioneer in social psychology, created a five-cluster model to describe national cultural dimensions. Hofstede describes culture as the “collective mental programming of the human mind which distinguishes one group of people from another.” Distilled for the harried consumer, the five dimensions play out as follows:
Power distance: This dimension concludes that individuals in societies are not equal; power distance measures how people with less power expect and accept that power is distributed unequally in their country.
Individualism: This dimension measures the degree of interdependence in a society, distinguishing between self-images based on “I” or “We.” People in individualist countries only watch out for direct family; people in collectivist countries join groups, trading loyalty for security.
Masculinity/Femininity: This dimension determines what motivates people in terms of wanting to be the best, a masculine high score, or liking what you do, a feminine low score. Masculine countries focus on becoming tops in a given field; feminine countries focus on caring for others and quality of life.
Uncertainty avoidance: This dimension relates to how people in a country deal with the future. Do they try to control outcomes or just let life happen? Do they create belief systems and institutional bulwarks because they feel threatened by ambiguity and the unknown?
Long-term orientation: This dimension centers on Confucius and his philosophy. In the search for virtue, do people in a country take a pragmatic, far-flung view of the future or do they run with a conventional perspective energized by short-term successes?
The cultural dimensions of the United States compared to other countries: *
Realizing the quiz will start in a matter of moments, a brief take on national cultural norms must be hurriedly explored. Created by Richard Lewis, the British scholar who penned When Cultures Collide, the Lewis Model* assigns countries cultural identities according to three color-coded categories. Chainsawed to meet the needs of time-challenged bystanders and passersby, the categories unfold as follows:
Linear-active: Cultures where people are happiest scheduling, organizing, pursuing chains of action and simply doing one thing at a time. Examples: Germany, Switzerland, USA, UK.
Multi-active: Cultures where people are happiest doing many things at once and making plans based on thrill factors and degree of importance. Examples: Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Argentina.
Reactive: Cultures where people are happiest emphasizing courtesy and respect, good listening skills, and careful responses to offers and overtures. Examples: China, Japan, Vietnam.
Now that the quiz is within taking distance, critical questions must be asked: What is the point of CQ? Why worry about global cultural competencies? How can cultural awareness be advantageous in the workplace? But first, what does boosting your CQ actually do? The Cultural Intelligence Center has four answers:
- Enhances sensitivity to cultural differences
- Reduces use of overly simplistic stereotypes
- Enhances adjustment and relationships in multicultural contexts
- Improves decision-making and work performance in multicultural contexts
Virtually every situation contains cultural dimensions that can influence your interpersonal relationships, dimensions that are often close to home, including lifestyles, career disciplines, musical tastes, food preferences and even political orientations. Raising your CQ provides insights into your own strengths and weaknesses while allowing you to downsize misunderstandings in your social and business interactions. Bottom line, globalization and diversity are hallmarks of the modern workaday environment. Dialing up your CQ is a no-brainer opportunity to fast-track your personal and professional development.
Finally, the damn quiz…
Expanding Your Cultural Intelligence
Now that you’ve taken the quiz and answered every question correctly, you need to realize that a strong grasp on global cultural trivia does not make you a cultural genius. Having a high CQ is all about attitude, clarity, flexibility, adaptability and a knack for perceiving how elaborate arrays of cultural differences influence the connections we make with other people. Having a high CQ is measured by how well we build relationships, partnerships, collaborations and friendships across boundaries that can be both subtle and seemingly insurmountable. Having a high CQ is finding the poise to stop and appreciate that we are all bewilderingly, wonderfully human, after all.
To learn more about cultural intelligence at DCTC as well as ways to explore culture-smart leadership concepts in the business world, contact:
- Harold Torrence, Ed.D
Instructor | Multicultural Management Program
Chair | DCTC Diversity Council
Faculty Advisor | Multicultural Student Leadership Association (MSLA)