Thomas Cook travel agency occasionally receives ridiculous complaints from dissatisfied customers. Here are my favorites:
- “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
- “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
- “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
- “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
- “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”
- “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
- “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time – this should be banned.”
- “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
- “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
- “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
My wife and I just returned from travel to Korea. With our job we have had the privilege to travel, teach and develop leaders on almost every continent in the world. We have made many new friends and learned with brilliant people. But I always wished I knew more about the cultures before I traveled. I am sure I have made cultural blunders along the way. For the people who submitted complaints above, some plain common sense intelligence might have done the trick. For those of us who lead and interact globally, cultural intelligence is needed.
Cultural intelligence (CQ) is described by global thinker and author David Livermore as “the ability to be effective across various cultural contexts—including national, ethnic, organizational, generational, ideological, and much more.”
CQ may determine success globally even more than IQ. His research reveals four capabilities that consistently emerge among individuals who are effective in culturally diverse situations:
1. CQ DRIVE: a high level of interest, drive, and motivation to adapt cross-culturally.
2. CQ KNOWLEDGE: a strong understanding about how cultures are similar and different.
3. CQ STRATEGY: awareness and ability to plan in light of their cultural understanding.
4. CQ ACTION: when to adapt and when not to adapt when engaging cross-culturally.
Read the Forbes article, “CQ: The Test of Your Potential for Cross Cultural Success”.