Cultural Intelligence and Personal Growth

Cultural Intelligence and Personal Growth

by Felicity Menzies

Personal growth involves a marked change in your meaning system—your understanding of how and why things happen and how things should be. All your experiences are interpreted via your meaning system, which forms gradually over your life and is shaped by socialisation and your unique individual experiences. These forces influence how you respond to and interpret the world.

Change of mind

For meaning systems to change, two things must happen: critical reflection and rational discourse. Critical reflection involves an objective analysis of one’s assumptions and beliefs. Rational discourse involves discussing one’s assumptions and beliefs with other people in a way that highlights inconsistencies, biases, or blind spots. These two activities encourage a person to consider how their personal worldview limits the way they perceive, understand, and feel about their world.

In turn, this new awareness helps the individual to overcome habitual ways of thinking. Singular, rigid worldviews are replaced with more inclusive, expansive, flexible, holistic, and integrating outlooks. Future experiences are interpreted with greater curiosity and openness, which has a profound impact on a person’s life. It improves mental health and social functioning.

Personal growth is rare in adult life and is usually triggered by a disorientating emotional event, such as the death of a spouse, a life-threatening illness, divorce, or job loss. But transformation can occur gradually from incremental changes to meaning systems over time.

Cultural Intelligence and personal growth

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. Through Cultural Intelligence training, you critically examine your cultural meaning system and how this influences your interpretations, expectations, and assumptions. As you develop Cultural Intelligence, you come to accept the validity of different worldviews.

With high Cultural Intelligence, you have a more expansive and inclusive way of looking at the world. You are less defensive and more accepting of new ideas. You are open to new perspectives, ideas, and relationships. Being released from the confines of a singular worldview opens up new possibilities and enriches your life.

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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.