Improve Your CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Strategy: Cultural Perspective Taking

Improve Your CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Strategy: Cultural Perspective Taking

by Felicity Menzies

Cultural Intelligence is the capability to manage cultural diversity: the set of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to recognise, understand, reflect on, and adapt to cultural differences.

Individuals with high Cultural Intelligence (CQ) display four critical competencies:

CQ Drive is a willingness to work with diverse others.

CQ Knowledge is an understanding of culture and cultural differences.

CQ Strategy is the ability to flex mentally.

CQ Action is the ability to flex verbal and nonverbal behaviour.

CQ Strategy and cultural perspective taking

Flexing mentally (CQ Strategy) is concerned with cultural perspective taking. Cultural perspective taking is the active consideration of alternative worldviews. This helps you transcend the automaticity of your own cultural framework. Imagining the world from the perspectives of others helps you to interpret their intentions and behaviours more accurately. It also reduces your tendency towards stereotyping and bias. As a result, you can respond with greater cultural sensitivity, which builds trust and decreases interpersonal tension.

Perspective taking works by creating in your mind a mental overlap of yourself and your partner. When engaged in perspective taking, you see more of yourself in your partner.  This decreases ‘Us and them’ distinctions and related prejudices. Perspective taking also increases mimicry—your unconscious mirroring of your partner’s behaviours. Mimicry is important in building social rapport.

Improving cultural perspective taking

Prompts can help you improve your cultural perspective taking.  The prompt must encourage you to reflect on how culture might be affecting your counterpart’s values and beliefs.

Here is an example:

‘Before you decide how to respond in this interaction, write down a few sentences describing your counterpart’s interests and concerns as a person living within their culture.

Now consider how your counterpart’s behaviours and decisions in this situation may be guided by his or her cultural values and beliefs’.

Prompts are useful when planning for intercultural interactions. They can also be used to encourage reflective monitoring in real-time, during your exchanges with others.

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Felicity Menzies is CEO and Principal Consultant at Include-Empower.Com, a diversity and inclusion consultancy with expertise in inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, cultural intelligence and inclusion, gender equity, empowering diverse talent. Felicity is an accredited facilitator with the Cultural Intelligence Centre and the author of A World of Difference. Felicity has over 15 years of experience working with and managing diverse workforces in blue chip companies and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand. Felicity also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.