What Is Cultural Intelligence (CQ)?

January 31, 2017 / by Jillian Rodriguez

Traveler raising her cultural IQNow more than ever, we live in a diverse, multicultural world. As our world changes, so does our definition of what it takes to be successful. That’s where CQ comes in.

Many of us grew up with the idea that your IQ, a test score designed to measure your intelligence, is a key indicator of your future success. More recently, the idea of emotional intelligence (EQ), your ability to identify and manage your feelings and those of others, is factored into your ability to succeed. Now, the intelligence trifecta is complete with the rise of cultural competency (CQ): your capacity to successfully work and build relationships in multicultural scenarios.

Cultural competency is integrated into every aspect of Mango Languages’ products. All of our courses include culture notes that teach in-depth, relevant cultural information along the way. Increasing CQ is important to us — here’s why we think it should be important to you, too.

Why CQ is crucial to your success

Successful business people using their cultural IQAcross professions and career paths, a high CQ is critical to success. Cultural intelligence enhances a person’s ability to lead, strengthens company culture, and creates strong relationships across cultural borders.

A recent study conducted by the Cultural Intelligence Center found that people with high CQs are consistently more personally and professionally effective. Businesses that invest in cultural competency enjoy higher employee retention and increased revenue. That’s because a high CQ allows a company or a leader to accomplish their goals no matter the cultural circumstances.

A business that prioritizes CQ can more easily expand into new markets, foster creativity and innovation, recruit top talent from around the world, and create a welcoming environment for employees from all walks of life. Likewise, job seekers who can demonstrate a high CQ are more likely to get hired, promoted, and become a leader in their field.

How you can increase your CQ

Raising your cultural IQ on a computerNow that you know how important it is to invest in your CQ, let’s talk about some practical ways you can build your cultural competency. In general, CQ is divided into four categories: your initial drive to engage in multicultural scenarios, your cultural knowledge, your actions when put into practice, and your strategy for multicultural interactions. To understand where in this process you currently are, there are a number of self-assessments online — we love this assessment from Georgetown University. Although it applies to the interactions between client and service provider relating to children with special needs, the ideas can also apply to office and team dynamics.

After establishing where you need to grow, seek out new learning opportunities. Talk with your school or HR department about their existing programs and find out if they offer a CQ certification or course. If not, many businesses will be willing to invest in your professional development and help you find an outside coach or conference to attend.

Beyond formal training, there are many practical ways to foster your cultural intelligence every day. There are a number of books on cultural competency that explore the topic and help you build strategies to take you from awareness to action.

If you’re learning a new language already, make sure you’re rounding out that learning with cultural studies, too. With Mango, cultural information is already integrated into every course, saving you the extra effort of seeking out that knowledge on your own. All of our cultural notes are created by native speakers who know the culture firsthand, so you’ll be getting an insider’s perspective on daily life and customs. 

Another foolproof way to build your CQ? Get out there and explore. Learn how to say the basic greetings in as many languages as possible (how about 70+?Talk to people outside of your common circles, join new clubs, and visit cultural events in your area. Your comfort zone will expand in no time. Ready to start boosting your CQ score today? Choose from Mango’s 70+ world language and culture courses today and get started.


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Are you working on increasing your CQ? What other types of intelligences are important? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Topics: Language Learning and Culture, Corporate, Higher Ed

Jillian Rodriguez

Written by Jillian Rodriguez

Jillian is a writer and editor out of Detroit, Michigan. She loves connecting people through new ideas, interesting stories, and good conversation. In her free time, Jillian loves to read, write, and listen to podcasts - in Spanish and in English!

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