Thinking of Dutch culture, some typical things stand out: we are direct and straightforward, not afraid to speak our minds. We appear to be greedy, which even lead to the term ‘going Dutch’ - indicating that everyone in a group pays for themselves. We used to be good at soccer. At first, we seem very sociable and easy going, but sooner rather than later most foreigners feel they hit a wall when trying to befriend a Dutchman.

Some of these cultural characteristics are very well-known. This allows foreigners visiting or moving to the Netherlands to prepare. Worldwide there are a number of cultural rules that seem to be part of general knowledge: we know men and women do not touch publically in most Middle Eastern countries, in Japan we wouldn’t talk with a loud voice and in Italy you don’t drink cappuccino after breakfast or you will look like a cultural barbarian.

Within the field of psychology, the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures is called cultural intelligence. The term cultural intelligence was first introduces by Ang and Van Dyne in their research to measure and predict intercultural performance. They also came up with the term cultural quotient (CQ), which indicates the level of cultural intelligence. CQ is made up out of four capabilities:

1.  CQ-Drive is about interest and confidence when it comes to cultural diverse settings, how much joy you get out of engaging in intercultural contact.

2.  CQ-Knowledge is about how much you know about cultural differences and similarities, for example when it comes to economical systems, religious beliefs and language.

3.  CQ-Strategy is about how aware you are when it comes to intercultural experiences, so knowing your own culture, in what way you plan to handle an intercultural encounter and how you check with yourself if you have any assumptions or prejudice.

4.  CQ-Action is about your ability to adapt you verbal and non-verbal behaviour to different cultures.

Interested in increasing your cultural intelligence? Read our next blog!