Thanks to technological advances, the business world is getting smaller by the day, and one somewhat good part about the coronavirus pandemic is that many businesses are realizing that a good percentage of employees have the ability to perform their duties equally (or even better, in many cases), making their potential employee base pretty much unlimited.

With that, cultural intelligence in the workplace is as important as it has ever been. No matter your location, occupation, or size of the company you work for, an open mind and an understanding that different doesn’t mean wrong should be the norm for you and your co-workers. If it is not, your workplace has a lot of steps to take before educating on cultural intelligence. Understanding the trends, work styles, and customs of colleagues makes for a more streamlined workplace, and as a bonus: it’s fun to learn about other cultures!

What is Cultural Intelligence?

Cultural intelligence and cultural sensitivity is a pretty easy, and somewhat self-explanatory concept of being able to relate to and work colleagues from different cultures. Whether this means racially, financially, locationally, religiously, or otherwise, self-educating oneself on the practices and beliefs of coworkers will allow for much easier cross-cultural communication, and ultimately a better environment for a business to thrive in.

How Do I Develop My Own?

So glad you asked. The first step is knowing that you have things to learn about other cultures… especially those you may interact with at the workplace. Emotional maturity is important, as many people still struggle to see other cultures as simply different, rather than wrong, but that situation is trending in the right direction, and social media and the internet, in general, are helping by providing ways to self-educate. Good ol’ movies and TV shows are great ways to self-educate, too, and with Netflix and things of the like the availability of film and television from other countries and cultures is aplenty.

Just as many experts believe immersion is the best way to learn a language, it’s also arguably the best way to up your cultural intelligence. Firsthand experiences of other cultures (or “travel” as some call it), really opens up people’s eyes who previously though that “there way” was the same way everyone else did things. As a work-related bonus, travel chats also makes for great conversation starters with colleagues from other parts of the world.

Corporate Exercises

A step up from encouraging self-education is training a workforce on cultural intelligence. A culturally intelligent and divers workplace is a workplace with a ton of ideas, and also a workplace that has higher employee retention rates, more positive reviews by employees, and is often making more money than it’s less-culturally sound counterparts. Workplace exercises akin to an adult version of “show and tell” can allow employees to share things about their cultures and religions to help their colleagues’ cultural intelligence grow.

Beyond the Workplace

Cultural intelligence doesn’t just help you be a better employee, it also helps you become a more well-rounded human being, and sharing your cross-culture experiences with friends and acquaintances outside of work just further builds those individuals’ cultural intelligence, and spreading something like cultural intelligence is a welcomed move in the somewhat divisive political climate of the United States.