Remember the once all important Emotional Intelligence? And the debate on Spiritual Intelligence that some preferred to remodel as Existential Intelligence?
The hottest thing now is Cultural Intelligence. Cultural Intelligence (or cultural quotient, CQ) is essential for doing business in our multicultural and global world.
An alarming 70% of international ventures fail because cultural differences weren’t understood. Sometimes the flop is predictable. The American Dairy Association exported its successful marketing campaign to Mexico. The slogan ‘Got Milk?’ that worked in the USA, did not translate well into Spanish and read ‘Are you lactating?’. ‘Super Piss’, a Finish product to unfreeze car locks, definitely hit the wrong button with the North Americans. Brazilian chocolate proved to be too sweet for the Northern European market. And Brazilian bikinis didn’t work either; the Northern Europeans thought they were overpriced for the quantity of fabric used.
Etiquette is a minefield. Everybody dealing in Africa should know that in some cultures it is not done to establish eye contact. And a businesswoman, who wants to shake hands with an Arab or Jewish man, may expect a very cold shoulder.
CQ is all about cross-cultural awareness. But it takes much more than fluency in six languages, knowing different cuisines or reading about do’s and don’ts abroad. Therefore UnitedSucces will continue to unpack CQ both in organisations and across the globe in the months to come.
What situation have you found yourself in when you wished you knew more about the culture of the organisation or the country?