What is Cultural Intelligence?

We all know the good old-fashioned intelligence IQ (Intelligence Quotient), and we can agree that it is important. However, at some point of time it was clear that we needed more than IQ. Something that made it possible to understand what is going on between people. That is when EQ (Emotional Intelligence) came into the picture. Later on, reserachers found out that we also need competences to understand what is going on and how to act in a world with many different cultures. So, we need more than EQ. From around 2000, a global research project has been ongoing which has defined CQ (Cultural Quotient) as the four capabilities needed to succeed in any cross-cultural setting.

Culturally Intelligence (CQ) consists of four capabilities:

Drive: Your motivation, the benefit you and your team gain from being in a cross-cultural setting

Knowledge: Your knowledge about how the involved cultures and alike and different

Strategy: Your ability to use your knowledge to prepare and adjust your actions

Action: Your ability to adjust your actions, body language, language and the way you speak

If you score high on each of these capabilities your chance to succeed in a cross-cultural collaboration or interaction is high.

For more information on CQ and especially for how to use CQ in an Indian-Western setting, contact Culturewise – line(a)culturewise.dk – or click on the following link to learn more about Cultural Intelligence Center.


When a yes-loving culture and a no-loving culture meet..

When an Indian “who likes to show the more positive sides of things” and a Scandinavian or Northern European “who feels most comfortable with persons who answers a clear no” meet, they should both pay careful attention to the communication style. Misunderstandings can easily arise. If we look at the situaiton slightly differently, in stead of seeing an upcoming threat, we could see it as an opportunity to learn something about our own way of communicating – and to create a totally new unique global way of communicating. Before we talk more about how to benefit from the differences, let us take a look at the yes-loving and no-loving cultures that are at play here.

What do Danes and Indians say about each other?
During Culturewise’s many workshops, a lot of Indians and Danes have shared their experiences of working together. One of the main differences always mentioned by participants are the different ways in which yes and no are used. Indians typically mention that Danes are very straightforward and blunt in their communication and just say “no”. Danes often experience that they DO NOT often hear a “no” from their Indian colleagues, and that they hear the answer “yes” far too much.

Build A Third Culture
In interactions between yes-loving culture and the no-loving culture, the typical question is: “How can we avoid misunderstandings?”. In stead, we could ask: “Can we learn something new?”Culturewise would recommend your team to follow the two steps of creating “A third culture”:
1) Create awareness about the differences and similarities between the cultures involved
2) Look back: What has worked well so far?
3) Create clarity about expectations: What are OUR expectations to good communication?
3) Looking ahead: How can we build new succesful ways of working that is based on what has worked well and based on our expectations?

An example of Third Culture: Is this “A Danish Yes” or “An Indian Yes”?
Culturewise once worked with a purely virtual team which often had discussions about how things worked in their team. One day, they discussed the communication style of their team. Someone had noticed that Indians and Danes in the team had different ways of using yes, and that this sometimes created misunderstandings in the team. The team discussed the different ways of using of yes and the background for this, and in fact they had great fun discussing this.The team arrived at a very practical solutions that if anyone was ever in doubt about what a “yes” means, they could clear this up by asking: “Is this a Danish yes or an Indian yes?”

This is one example of a Third Culture showcasing the benefits of working with A Third Culture:

1) The team got to know about why team members sometimes act in different ways, and sometimes in similar ways
2) The team had great fun
3) The team itself designed it’s own Third Culture Solution – which works!

Is India one country?

How come that every time some one asks a questions about India, it can only be answered with: “Well, it depends on how you look at it…” or “Do you speak about Urban India or Rural India” or “It is difficult to generalise about India…”?
It is because India is such a diverse and huge country. Historians and scholars have written about the improbability that India stays together as a country. They say that India is too diverse, India is too large and India has too many conflicts.

However, India has managed to stay together as one country since its independence in 1947. There are many different factors that play a role here – political, historical and cultural. If we look at India today there are a couple of factors that play a role in defining idea as India as ONE country. One of these factors is cricket, the national sport of India, that is extremely popular in the whole country. Another is the fact that India is a country on the rise economically, defined as “Shining India” by the Hindu Nationalist Party BJP in 2003.

Shining India and Not-So-Shining-India
If we look for “Shining India”, we will find it. We will see the economic success in the huge metropols with lots of high rise buildings, flyovers and metro lines… However, (as earlier stated) we cannot generalise about India. And if we take one more look at India, we will also see a part of the country that is not shining so much. Outside the large metropols in the rural areas, we see people who live in a very traditional (oldfashioned?) manner with no modern equipment in small villages.
Even inside the metropols, we find huge contrasts. For example street kids with their dirty hair and clothes begging to barely survive. They live under the flyvovers constructed so that large airconditioned cars with drivers can take global Indians from their large air conditioned houses to glass covered 10th floor office rooms, where they do business with the rest of the world.

Three sentences of advice
When we do business, live or work in India, how can we understand a country like this? Here are three sentences from Culturewise that can help you in the process of grasping India
– India is in principle too large and too diverse to be one country
– Despite of that, India is ONE country
– Therefore, remember that you CANNOT generalise