Crossing the Cultural Divide with Emotional Intelligence
Published March 2007
A few excerpts…
Is there a way to cut across cultural difference and understand one another at a human level? If we access the intelligence of emotions, are we just using another cultural filter, or does universality exist? Are some aspects of emotional intelligence (EQ) more or less influenced by culture? And how do we use this concept to improve performance?
One of the areas with the greatest difference is optimism. Because optimism is linked closely with performance, this finding has important implications for performance management. When people from the Americas and Asia work together, they often assess risk differently. Those from the Americas are more likely to see possible solutions and have an expectation they can affect the outcome. Coupled with research indicating optimism scores predict performance scores, this finding suggests managers from the Americas might under-evaluate the performance of their Asian team members. Conversely, it suggests Asians who want to excel in a multinational company will benefit by developing this learnable skill.
The cross-cultural aspect of emotional intelligence is of particular importance in a global economy. To the extent that emotions are a universal language and that people in all cultures and places share a similar view of traits such as integrity and authenticity, the ability to “read and write the language of emotions” is an invaluable asset.