Look carefully at the image above. What do you pay attention to first, the different colours or the similar shapes? If you see the different colours first it means that you have a preference for looking for differences before you see similarities. If, however, you see the similar shapes before noticing they have different colours, it means that you have a preference for identifying similarities before noticing the differences.
How is that related to cultural intelligence?
Cultural intelligence is about having the ability to see things from different perspectives. That, even if it is perspectives you strongly disagree with. It is also about bridging different values, norms and preferences. We usually do that by compromising. But that is a very bad solution because the parties involved will inevitably try to get a better deal.
If we want to do better than a compromise it is essential that we start by focusing on what the parties have in common and use these commonalities to bridge the differences. It is therefore important you train yourself to look for similarities instead of differences. You can learn that and a lot more at our training modules.
How much cultural intelligence do you have?
Gugin teaches leaders around the world to become more culturally intelligent. They learn to avoid cultural conflicts. And they learn to create synergies from cultural diversity. If a cultural conflict arises they will know how to reconcile it because they possess a high level of cultural intelligence. Developing cultural intelligence is like climbing a ladder. It is something you develop one step at a time. In Gugin we have a lot of intercultural training modules for almost any purpose. there are particular two intercultural course modules you should start with. They enable you to climb the cultural intelligence ladder. They are called Introduction to Cultural Intelligence and Advanced Cultural Intelligence.
One of the first things we have to learn is to start focusing on the commonalities when we bring different cultures together. What did you answer to the question above? If you answered three squares you most likely have a high level of cultural intelligence. If you answered 3 colours you might consider why you start by focusing on the differences rather than the commonalities.
Start with commonalities
If we start by focusing on the differences when we are in a multicultural setting it might be difficult to see the commonalities later on because we are trapped in the stereotypes. The Dutch research Geert Hofstede created stereotypes about nationalities and by that he fueled more cultural conflicts despite his objective hopefully was the opposite.
If, however, we start focusing on the commonalities the differences become less important and more manageable. It may sound simple but please take a moment to reflect and think about what your approach usually is.
This teaser is of course not enough to assess how much cultural intelligence you have, but hopefully, you got an idea of how easy it is to get things wrong, and hopefully, you will get in touch with us to learn more about how much cultural intelligence impacts performance of both leaders and the organisations they work for.
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