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  • Julia Ofner

CQ #1. Cultural Intelligence.

Updated: May 2


My journey-share of CQ development.



The melting-pot of cultures


My suitcase was huge, my Spanish was tiny, the city was burning. Overwhelmed, in this jungle of unfamiliar sounds, words, and cultures, my inspiring journey kicked off in 2003. i landed my Erasmus year in Barcelona. No doubt, the most crucial piece i brought along, was this little Spanish dictionary, do you remember them? Honestly, no clue how i survived, no internet, no laptop, no spoken Spanish. i quickly figured out, my English didn´t save me here as Barcelona spoke Spanish and Catalan. Reading between lines, was not my strength at that time. So the real challenge was not to get lost in the cultural translation of all the colorful people i met coming from the world out there. In my 3 shared flats, i had to manage life & space with 15 different nationalities, oh gosh; what a learning-trip. Nevertheless, for a global linguist, like me, the perfect playground for research. Surprisingly, a completely new world opened up offering me to discover the rich variety & profound dimensions of cross-cultural dialogue. Believe it or not, living in a multi-cultural & bi-lingual melting pot of 1001 cheesy shades of yellow, gave me always the feeling of being connected with the world, mastering real-life CQ development. However, living abroad is tough and only the toughest survive. The truth is, i had to overcome 1002 obstacles but thanks to these experiences i am the person i am today. Amazing 18 years later and my journey melting with different cultures continues. Today i know, communicating with melting cultures in English globally involves overcoming obstacles and sometimes setbacks but enriches our world.


You have to climb the melting-pot when you really want to engage with a culture. Fearlessly and boldly, jumping in; learning to swim.

Global glimpse


In our global environment, we virtually travel from Singapur to London, and in a few seconds landing in New York has just become ordinary on our agendas. Crossing borders is routine, and cultural intelligence becomes a vitally essential skill when communicating around the globe. But being honest, how often are you misunderstood or misinterpreted in your cross-cultural teams or with your German stakeholder answering short and silent while the Indian peer you never understand is just as rude as always. Of course, I am stereotyping, but isn´t this also part of the global game? Isn´t it a challenge to decode the behavior as idiosyncratic or culturally determined when we do not know the cultural patterns at all? On this global & virtual matrix, it is all about fine-tuning communicative patterns, and most often this is your key message in order to know how to engage & impact your global audience.


Cultural intelligence picks up where emotional intelligence leaves off.

CQ & the difference of cross-and trans-cultural patterns


Cultural intelligence or CQ picks up where emotional intelligence leaves off.

A person with EQ grasps & reads a person in order to understand what makes us different.

The knock-on effect is adding to EQ, CQ skills in order to tease out a person´s or group´s behaviors & concepts, those codes true to all people of the same group and those varying. The codes shared from one culture to the other we define as trans-cultural patterns. The word transcultural as used in anthropology refers to the beliefs of cultural concepts that transcend cultural boundaries. They are universal, all countries have these concepts.

The word cross-cultural, on the contrary, compares cultural groups and contrasts the concepts & behaviors of those. The codes peculiar in one culture, and those that are neither universal nor idiosyncratic, are characterized as cross-cultural patterns. In either case, using all your senses in global business communication is a means to an end to decode the interacting personalities' differences without judgment but with deep awareness. CQ English communication skills are a must-have. Fact is, we are all contrasting but unique. The inferences you draw in this manner will be free of the hazards of stereotyping and help you communicate in English. Another good news is that some aspects of cultural intelligence are innate but don´t take it for granted and keep moving.


Using all your senses is a means to an end to decode the interacting personalities' differences without judgment but with deep awareness.
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