Do You Have Cultural Intelligence?

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK ‘or CQ in short is the new buzzword with which companies can develop people skills and ultimately avoid conflict at the workplace. Therefore, developing people skills and the understanding of cultural diversity will go a long way in managing conflict at the workplace. This is the motto with which ‘Synergy Seminars on Culture and Diversity Training’ are being held by experts Jeanette Cross and Margy Johnson at workplaces in the country. At a recent training session in the capital, it was stated that attitudes, stereotypes and non-verbal signals in most cases could lead to conflict at the workplace. The essence is for all staff members, including management, to work through that by building relations and human skills as well as understanding each other’s cultural diversity and background. Cross noted that self-awareness and mindfulness amongst staff members can lead to positively developing skills in people and conflict management. “Conflict at the workplace mostly stems from insecurity and fear,” said the trainer, adding that there was a need to be mutually understanding and have knowledge of cultural diversity to avoid such a situation. “Deal with issues without being defensive or taking it personally. People learn from each other through interaction and sharing cultural intelligence or CQ,” she added. CQ has become the new buzzword when it comes to nurturing culture and diversity at various companies. It is only when one is culturally intelligent that one can deal with other people’s cultures and opinions that are different from yours. Diversity on the other hand means looking at the difference and most importantly the similarities for everyone to work harmoniously with one another. Understanding the advantages of working with people from different backgrounds and with different ways of thinking, learning and communicating are other important factors, while becoming aware of one’s own cultural and personal uniqueness. The main benefit of companies having such synergy seminar workshops on culture and diversity is that it not only breaks the ice and tension within the workplace but for staff members it boosts self-esteem and confidence, and enhances better communication and an environment that is all inclusive where no staff member feels left out or less important than others. Changing workplace attitudes is a long-term process, but synergy seminars like these hasten progress in this regard leading to efficiency and productivity at the workplace. Through a rather humorous and light-hearted approach the HR managers addressed the many attitudinal and stereotypical sentiments that arise in any work situation. Humour is effective in the sense that in most cases it cuts across all barriers and boundaries. “People often feel excluded in the workplace as input is not being done in a way that everyone feels comfortable,” explained Cross, adding that there’s a need to rather enhance “open communication on a more cultural than a personal level”. Through such a synergy workshop, participants were able to “dig into stuff that we are all scared to talk about”. That is why such an interaction is all about getting it all out and dealing with the culture and diversity issues hampering progress at the workplace head-on.