There are few things more complex and difficult to understand than the behavior of a human being. Perhaps that is why people who excel at interpreting, managing, and understanding emotions are often more successful than other individuals, even those who boast superior technical knowledge. In order to appreciate the value of emotional intelligence, one only has to browse through a pile of job applications. Nearly every employer requires that applicants possess strong written and communication skills as well as the ability to function efficiently in a team. These are all hallmarks of a person with a high degree of emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or EI.
One important component of EQ is CQ, or cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence refers to a person’s ability to interact and thrive in a non-native cultural environment. As the growth of globalization and multinational enterprises has increased, so has the need for culturally intelligent individuals. Such individuals augment and contribute to a firm’s internal resources and capabilities so that these firms can overcome the liability of foreignness and expand their reach around the globe.
An individual who boasts both EQ and CQ often boasts an equally versatile skill set with strengths in communication, leadership, and creativity. Unlike IQ, both EQ and CQ can be improved relatively easily by an individual. Here are two key ways in which you can increase your EQ and CQ.
- Interact with new people regularly: Today it seems that many people would prefer to gaze at the screen of their smartphone rather than start a conversation with another person. The ability to communicate through a digital medium is important; however, it pales in comparison to a person’s capability to engage other people in conversation. Put your smartphone down and try to start a conversation with a person who seems friendly and open to conversation. Just by briefly analyzing a person’s body language, you are already improving your ability to interpret nonverbal communication and body language.
- Travel to new places: You should strive to explore new places and locations fairly frequently. However, this doesn’t mean you have to plan a month’s vacation to some exotic land halfway across the globe. Traveling to a local foreign restaurant for lunch or dinner is a perfect opportunity. By visiting new places, you will meet new people from different cultures and diverse backgrounds who are often delighted to interact with you. Since you are also placed in an unknown environment, your self-awareness and observational skills should be heightened and you should gradually become more and more comfortable in unfamiliar environments. Finally, you have the potential to learn something, whether it is a small selection of German vocabulary or the ability to use chopsticks.
Want to further improve your CQ and EQ? Be sure to check out our courses including the Emotional Intelligence Bundle, Developing Your Emotional Conscience, Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence, and Recognizing, and Rewarding Across Cultures; 4 Factors for Success.
Ernest Sliter is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas with a passion for entrepreneurship, writing, and international business. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.
Image: Alpha via flickr