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  • Writer's pictureSulagna Das George

The role of EQ in Intercultural Communication

Often preparing to work in an intercultural environment would mean becoming aware of one’s Cultural Quotient, getting oriented with the cultural specifics and practicing one’s cross cultural communication till it’s the first day, when one finds himself amidst team mates from diverse backgrounds, with different perspectives, different working styles, and most importantly speaking in different languages, save for the English Language being a common connector.

Now, owing to the pandemic, with all our interactions having transitioned to virtual means, we are missing out on the crucial 93% of communication that is made up of non-verbal cues. In the context of Intercultural Communication, while connecting globally has become easier, feeling disconnected or ‘Other-ed’ has also become easier, for communicating in a diverse environment is a lot more than knowing communication techniques, and the screens in between with mostly our videos off is not helping.

Adding to that, we often see a tendency to slip into our mother tongues when the majority of the team has one in common, making it quite difficult for that team member who does not understand the same to feel connected despite his/her proactiveness and enthusiasm for the same.

This eventually affects the team and the work they produce, for it’s a sense of belonging that fosters mutual trust and motivation, directly affecting the productivity.

So, how can we mitigate this challenge and what are the conscious steps we can take for the same?

In four words it would be, nurturing our Emotional Quotient, as the fuel behind succeeding in an inter-cultural team would be to support our customized communication techniques with emotional literacy – a sense of purpose. Why? Because our Thoughts and Feelings get affected when in a unfamiliar environment, deciding our actions, making the three inherently linked, changing one inevitably changing the other two. It has been observed that in cross-cultural teams while new members often found their morals to be pulled down for various reasons, it’s their Emotional Intelligence and reminders of sense of purpose that pulled them back up.

So how do we tap into our EQ to make sure our CQ is elevated? Well, this is where Six Seconds EQ Model shows the path for all new members joining an inter/multi-cultural team.

1. Know Yourself (‘what’)– Here, take stock of how you feel in certain situations and environments, and try to see if there is a pattern you can recognize. Use your feelings/emotions as data for navigating through the hard bits and nurturing the good parts. 2. Choose Yourself (‘how’) – Apply Consequential Thinking, in other words, whenever faced with a difficult situation, take six seconds pause, and ask yourself what the different response options in hand. Then find out which one of those can be linked to your intrinsic motivation and exercises optimism. 3. Give Yourself (‘why’) – Tying your responses with your sense of purpose, your mission and vision, reminds you of the reason why you should move in a particular direction, aligning every small step with the bigger picture, filling you with energy to act intentionally. With the KCG model, when we are able to clearly see what we feel, do what we mean to do and do it for a reason, as a repeated cycle we are able to live intentionally instead of being on auto-pilot, making choices that align with our inner compass, hence navigating with empathy and creating the life we want. While CQ is the ability to relate to and communicate effectively with people from other cultures, it makes EQ an indispensable part of the process as it helps us to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. Here going back to the first day of working in a multicultural team, instead of feeling other-ed and closing off as a result of lack of self-awareness and understanding, with EQ one can manage emotions of self, be empathetic towards all the team members, fight the urge to accept automatic interpretations the brain is flooded with, take time to gather more information, ask questions and then respond mindfully – eventually code-switching effortlessly, mastering self and unfamiliar situations, going on to work in and lead teams that are multi-cultural.


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