What’s Your CQ?

We’ve all heard of IQ, and many of us have heard of EQ, but what about CQ?

CQ is a measure of one’s cultural intelligence.

But it is more than having basic intelligence, social skills and respect for other cultures. CQ was developed by the research done by Soon Ang, Linn Van Dyne, and David Livermore as a way of measuring and predicting intercultural performance.

In a rapidly changing global world where interacting with multinationals is becoming the norm, there is growing need to not just cross geographical borders, but also cultural.

According to Dr David Livermore, a thought leader on cultural intelligence and global leadership, CQ consists of four components:

  • Drive, i.e. being motivated to learn about a new culture;
  • Knowledge, i.e. learning how culture shapes people’s behaviors, values, and beliefs;
  • Strategy, i.e. being able to factor culture into longer-term planning; and
  • Action, i.e. behaving in a culturally sensitive way.

Fortunately, although some aspects of CQ are innate, this is an area, unlike IQ, which can be learnt, measured, and developed.

There are many benefits assocaited with a higher level of CQ:

  • Establish rapport and connect more easily
  • Communicate, negotiate and collaborate more effectively
  • Suffer less from disorientation caused by culture shock; adjust and adapt more easily and quickly, and consequently have a more pleasant and productive time if living and working in a cross-cultural environment
  • Appreciate multiple perspectives which enable you to effectively establish long-term relationships benefiting yourself, your business and your company

Although the CQ concept has been around for nearly a decade, I just found out about it today, and it was pure happenstance.

I was reading an interesting article about how only 20% of U.S. kids study a language in school—compared to 92% in Europe—and at the very end of the article there was a reference to cultural intelligence. Curiosity got the better of me, so I followed the link to an article that offered four tips to boost your cultural intelligence.

Here are those four tips:

  • Begin with positive intent. Your first response to someone else’s behavior should not be to assume they are being rude—and also keep in mind that others may misconstrue own your behavior.
  • Seek more information. Most behavior makes sense once explained.
  • Prepare. Consider frustrating situations you’ve encountered before and decide in advance how you’ll handle awkwardness graciously.
  • Be yourself, but adapt. You likely dress, speak, and behave differently in various familiar settings. Be similarly willing to shift in intercultural encounters.

As I was reading this article, I got the sense that there were some tools out there that could be used to assess one’s level of CQ, so at this point I turned to good old Google to help me find one that was online and free.

After a little while I came across a CQ test at Common Purpose, and that is the one I took. While the test is geared towards college students, I think it still can give some insight into one’s level of cultural intelligence. To access the test from the Common Purpose link, click on “Let’s Play” button.

The test only took 5-10 minutes, and just like the most recent online assessments I’ve taken, I fell right in the middle. Here is what the results said:
“You did not score low or high. Set yourself some targets and start talking to people, don’t miss the opportunity to be studying and living in a city with students from all over the world around you. Cultural Intelligence is the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures. In the future, organizations will promote for CQ, so start developing yours now on our free online FutureLearn course.”

If nothing else, the assessment gets you thinking. For example, one of the questions was something about whether you “made a new friend the past year with someone who was born more than 7,000 miles from you”. Well I don’t think I’ve ever made friends with someone that was born that far away, let alone just happen to do so this past year. That made me realize I probably need to broaden my horizons a bit more.

There’s no doubt that as the world has become flatter, CQ has become much more important. And it seems like one of the best things people can do is to pick up a second language. I’m as guilty as most Americans when it comes to only knowing English, but if want to become more culturally intelligent, a second language would seem to go a long way.

So if you’e got a couple minutes to spare, try the CQ assessment.

And if anyone taking the test was born more than 7,000 miles from Philadelphia, please let me know.

I’d like to be your friend.

P.S. Here is a TED X talk about cultural intelligence, featuring Julia Middleton of Common Purpose:

4 thoughts on “What’s Your CQ?

  1. I scored high because:

    1. I live 7000 miles away from the place I was born
    2. I work with people who aren’t my culture

    The CQ test should be renamed as “Are you an expat” test?


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