Topic 1 Useful definitions


Culture represents values, rules and traditions, which affect the way a community thinks, interacts, behaves and perceives the world.

Cultural competence

Also known as inter-cultural competence, is the person’s ability to interact effectively and develop healthy relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds by raising empathic awareness and cultivating cognitive, emotional and communication skills.

Cultural assessment

it is the process that leads to the acquisition of cultural competence through research methodologies

(e.g. questionnaires). It helps the person to reflect on his self-consciousness, and the characteristics of each culture he comes into contact with.

Cultural intelligence (CQ)

evaluates how people from different cultural backgrounds cooperate, with the acceptance that

  all people regardless of age can develop skills and practices, that render them culturally intelligent. Development of CQ leads to the reduction of social exclusion and mutual understanding.


Cultural intelligence, “CQ”: how culturally intelligent are you?
  • The ability of the individual to shape his behaviour acting effectively and with respect in a multicultural environment.
  • A person with low CQ index is unable to evaluate information received from people from different cultural backgrounds and communication with such a person is usually dysfunctional.
  • On the contrary, a high CQ index increases a person’s productivity in the workplace and improves his negotiation skills. Consequently, companies tend to examine whether employees -from different cultural backgrounds- can cooperate effectively.

The “CQ” is calculated by examining criteria such us:

 – human’s inner desire to find out different cultures,

 – understanding of cultural differences, someone may get in touch with,

 – sense of flexibility,

– behaviour towards people with different cultural backgrounds.

Cultural Intelligence
The cultural iceberg of Edward T. Hall

The Parallelism of culture with an iceberg:

If the culture of society was an iceberg, there would be some visible aspects, above the water, but there is a larger section hidden under the surface.

  • The external, or conscious, part of the culture: what we can see, the tip of the iceberg, includes the behavior and some beliefs.
  • The internal, or subconscious, part of the culture: it’s below the surface of society, includes some of the beliefs and values and thought patterns that define our behavior.
  • There are significant differences between conscious and subconscious culture.


  • Implicitly Learned
  • Unconscious
  • Difficult to Change
  • Subjective Knowledge



  • Explicitly Learned
  • Conscious
  • Easily Changed
  • Objective Knowledge
What does Cultural Competence mean?
  • The person’s ability to interact effectively, to work and to develop meaningful relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds
  • CC acquisition is a long-term process.


Necessary elements for the acquisition of CC:

  • realization of cultural identity,
  • positive attitude towards cultural differences – acceptance of diversity,
  • knowledge of different cultural practices and perceptions (e.g. different history, religion, beliefs, etc.),
  • development of intercultural skills (multiple benefits, e.g. building relationships of trust and loyalty between people from other cultures).