Intercultural competencies

Intercultural competencies are skills, knowledge and attributes that are valuable in culturally diverse environments

You can use intercultural competencies abroad (during an international experience) or while working within your own country (in any workplace).

We've identified four intercultural competencies that can help you become a strong global citizen.

Intercultural motivation

Intercultural motivation means that you are curious about new surroundings and cultures and actively seek out learning opportunities.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • welcome the opportunity to learn more about the geography and culture of your work term city, region and country
  • take initiative to explore your environment
  • actively network with people from different cultures
  • take interest in current events in your work term country
  • engage with people in your employer organization and community
  • network with potential international employers and inquire about the competencies valued by these companies
  • recognize your strengths and seek areas to improve

Intercultural knowledge

Intercultural knowledge means that you have a good understanding of how cultures are similar or different.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • recognize and respect cultural diversity
  • learn appropriate, effective ways to communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • know how to be diplomatic and sensitive to the dynamics of an intercultural workplace
  • understand how to communicate with people who speak or write a different language
  • know how to be adept in a new environment
  • understand ways to cope with constant change
  • learn phrases in a new language, or learn a new language

Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking means that you use your knowledge and understanding of different cultures to plan effective intercultural interactions.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • are conscious of your assumptions relating to cultural issues and question them at all times
  • think about how you can take initiative to learn from co-workers from different cultural backgrounds
  • plan how to pursue networking opportunities with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • consider new strategies during each cultural encounter
  • check for opportunities for cultural growth
  • consider how your area of study is applicable in a global context

Appropriate behaviour

Appropriate behaviour means that you demonstrate flexibility in your interactions and are able to recognize and adapt to cultural nuances in the workplace and beyond.

You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • display a positive attitude towards change and new environments
  • adapt to different intercultural communication norms
  • change your verbal and nonverbal behaviours according to different situations
  • demonstrate that you acknowledge the human, interpersonal and technical sides of a problem
  • show flexibility and explore possible solutions in an innovative and creative way

Download: The four intercultural competencies

UVic's intercultural competencies are based on the cultural intelligence (CQ) model created by the Cultural Intelligence Center.

See understanding and using competencies to learn how to use, measure and describe your competencies.