Robin Kelly on A Tip on Activating Your Cultural Intelligence

Hi, I am Robin Kelly; I work as an internal evaluator for the National Minority AIDS Council, which is a federally funded nongovernmental organization that provides capacity building assistance to community based organizations and health departments that have programs or interventions to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I mention it because we work in communities of color. In doing so, attention to culture, be it individual, or organizational, must be given paramount attention.

Also, I live and work in Washington, DC. , a  city of hot summers, temperate falls, unpredictable winters, warm springs and varying political winds all year long. It is also an extraordinarily diverse city.  From the people to the types of nongovernmental organizations that exist here, there are a plethora of cultures.

The phrase cultural intelligence (CQ) is used as we systematically address the evaluation of personal interests and interactions. The abbreviated meaning of the term is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts (national, ethnic, organizational, generational, etc.) with heightened awareness of the characteristics of those in that setting, be they organizational culture or individual.  Some have referred to cultural intelligence as the sister to emotional intelligence.

Hot Tip: When you are placed in an international or local setting or working with foreign nationals, remember to flex your CQ skills.  When working with individuals or groups who represent diverse cultures, remember that each participant has four distinct capabilities that you will need to be sensitive to:

  1. Drive – motivation
  2. Cognition- understanding
  3. Strategic outlook-awareness
  4.  Action-behavior (in new settings)

Rad Resource: Consider using a tool to optimize your CQ. In addition to the tips above a tool will help to reframe or adjust to those with whom you wish to consult or interact or provide a service.  To see a tool that I recommend, see SAMPLE CQ SELF-TEST.  The complete assessment can be found in Building Cultural Intelligence by Richard D. Bucher.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Robin Kelly on A Tip on Activating Your Cultural Intelligence”

  1. Laura Gagliardone

    Thank you very much Ms Kelly for giving sensitivity importance! I think that it should be perceived not as weakness but strength because nowadays we have to talk about ‘mosaic’ countries where everybody depends on everybody else and cross-cutting issues are more and more interconnected to each other. My time in the United States has let me observe that people of color are growing at a faster rate than the Caucasian population and this will influence how culture and diversity are conceptualized over the next decades. Thus spending quality time to identify and understand cultural issues is fundamental for any kind of developmental intervention. Also, I think that organizing social gathering and moments of discussion at a formal and informal level, engaging dialogue with different stakeholders and documenting practices would be useful to have a better picture of the context where the activities take place and think of better policies ahead.

  2. Karen Anderson

    Thanks for the sample CQ test Robin! This is a great tool for helping people to learn about some of the main components of cultural intelligence.

    Have you ever used it with groups to assess and work to improve CQ?

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