Skip to main content

Cultural Intelligence competencies

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts. These include:

  • national
  • ethnic
  • generational
  • organizational
  • various diversity groups

CQ capabilities

CQ has 4 capabilities which we refer to as the 4 CQ competencies. These are:

1. CQ Drive means that you have interest and confidence in functioning effectively in culturally diverse settings. You demonstrate this competency when you:

  • are curious about new surroundings and cultures
  • actively seek out learning opportunities within diverse cultural contexts
  • welcome the opportunity to learn more about the geography and culture of where you live, work and study
  • take initiative to explore your environment
  • actively network with people from different cultures
  • take interest in current events locally and globally
  • engage with people in your employer organization and community
  • network with diverse communities and organizations
  • recognize your intercultural capabilities and seek areas to improve

2. CQ 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
  • have knowledge of cultural values and business systems
  • know how to be diplomatic and sensitive to the dynamics of a culturally diverse 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

3. CQ Strategy 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 with culturally diverse 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

4. CQ Action 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
  • recognize and adapt to cultural differences in communication
  • change your verbal and nonverbal behaviours according to different situations
  • demonstrate that you can acknowledge the human, interpersonal and technical sides of a problem
  • show flexibility and explore possible solutions in an innovative and creative way

Put these in action: see using competencies to learn how to use, measure and describe your competencies.

Develop your CQ skills

We’ve developed a curriculum to help you connect effectively with people from diverse cultures, experiences and communities. 

Embrace Diversity – Developing your Cultural Intelligence

  • introduces students to culture, cultural values and cultural intelligence
  • included in the Introduction to Professional Practice (IPP) course that all students complete before their first work term

Take Flight with Co-op – Preparing for Your Work Term Abroad

  • delivered online, this curriculum is for students embarking on an international work term
  • read about the country you are going to
  • anticipate cultural challenges you may encounter
  • learn how to plan for success in that cultural context

Drive to CQ Effectiveness

  • for students returning from international experiences
  • discuss cultural challenges you encountered:
    • the cultural values inherent in these challenges
    • how your CQ competencies helped you navigate these challenges
    • how to articulate the CQ competencies you gained when searching for future jobs

Succeeding in your Canadian Job Search

  • for students from international pathways who are used to different job search strategies and workplace culture than those common in Canada
  • this curriculum covers these differences and how to use your CQ competencies to succeed in your Canadian job search and in Canadian workplaces.

Contact us if you are not in the co-op program and would like to access any of these lessons.