It’s impossible to deny the changing face of the American workplace. From small businesses in rural towns to large corporations in big cities, the workplace is becoming more diverse by the day. Understanding how to manage these cultures underneath one roof is both challenging and critically important.
4 Ways to Enhance Cultural Intelligence
“You may have heard about social intelligence. A person with high social intelligence can get along and work well with others. We sometimes say they have people skills,” Dr. Louise Rasmussen writes for Global Cognition. “Cultural intelligence is like that. Only it implies that a person is able to get along with other people no matter what their cultural background.”
If you’re going to experience any level of success in today’s business world, you must prioritize cultural intelligence in the workplace – both in yourself and your employees.
Here are some simple, yet practical ways you can do this:
1. Bond Over Similarities
A lot of business leaders think that the best way to tackle diversity in the workplace is by immediately highlighting everyone’s differences. But contrary to popular belief, it’s actually better to take the opposite approach.
“Focus on what your team has in common, versus what makes you different,” JB Training suggests. “Forging connections and acknowledging similarities will lead to attitudes and behaviors that capitalize on human differences for organizational success.”
When you people bond over similarities, they’re more likely to be accepting of each other’s differences. This gives cultural intelligence an opportunity to thrive.
2. Challenge Stereotypes
Stereotypes must be dealt with, but not demonized. They’re a natural part of processing a chaotic world. Without some level of stereotyping, we would be extremely ineffective in how we communicate and interact with people. That being said, it’s important to challenge stereotypes and avoid letting them hijack every relationship.
Make a habit out of questioning attitudes and decisions involving different people. When you really dig in and attempt to understand how and why people feel the way they do, you’ll be able to cut through the “fluff” and find the substance in people’s thoughts.
3. Diversify Your Hiring Practices
It’s one thing to teach people how to be sensitive to other cultures – it’s something else entirely to integrate people from different cultures into the same workplace. If you’re only hiring people who fit certain criteria, you’re not really doing much to develop a culturally intelligent workforce. Diversify your hiring practices and you’ll start taking steps in the right direction.
4. Improve Communication Skills
The way in which you communicate with your employees has a direct impact on how they feel about the organization. If you want to improve your cultural intelligence, you must enhance your communication skills and understand that different cultures prefer to receive information in different ways.
“Some workers don't feel comfortable being singled out for praise in front of the entire employee group—a typical way to dish out praise in the U.S. For these workers, quiet praise in a private office is much preferred,” entrepreneur Kim Ribbink explains.
In other cultures, employees don’t trust information that comes directly from the business owner or manager. They would prefer to receive information from a more immediate supervisor or leader.
Little things like these may seem insignificant, but focusing on appealing to the intricacies of individual cultures will take you a long way.
Give Your Business a Strong Foundation
In order to set your business up for success in a world where global borders have largely been removed, you must foster a workplace that prioritizes cultural intelligence. There are a multitude of ways to do this, but you must take action.