The 5 Stages

Welcome back! In this post, I will share with you 5 stages of cultural intelligence development as presented by David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson in their book, ‘Cultural Intelligence, Surviving and Thriving in the Global Village.’

Let’s imagine that you find yourself participating in a multi-cultural environment. That could be any number of scenarios: you are living in a cultural not your own, you work in a job where you interact with people from a culture not your own or even possibly you are involved in a community/volunteer group related to immigrants to your own home culture. In any of these scenarios and many more, you will be more successful at achieving your goals with increased cultural intelligence (and, by the way increased emotional intelligence!). The good news is that you can learn new cultures with cultural self-awareness and focused intentional change.

The following is taken more or less directly from the book referenced above:
Stage 1 – Reactivity to external stimuli. Here we don’t even realize that cultural differences exist and mindlessly adhere to our own culture.

Stage 2 – Recognition of other cultural norms and the existence of a motivation to learn more. The individual is curious and wants to learn more and may find a foreign culture very complex and hard-to-understand.


Stage 3 – Accommodation of other cultural norms in one’s own mind. We deepen our understanding of cultural variation and start to understand cultural norms in their own context. We understand how to behave, even if we find it uncomfortable.

Stage 4 – Assimilation of diverse cultural norms into alternative behaviors. Individuals have a broad repertoire of behaviors which can be used depending on the situation. They are able to function almost as if they were in their home culture and members of other cultures accept them and feel comfortable interacting.

Stage 5 – Proactivity in cultural behavior thanks to an understanding of cues that others do not notice. Individuals are attuned to the nuances of intercultural interactions and can automatically change their behaviors.

What do you think of these stages? Where would you place yourself? How can you intentionally improve your own cultural intelligence?

If you find this topic interesting, consider joining us at our Opening Doors Across Cultures workshop on May 19th in Bangkok.

Sign up on Eventbrite here:

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