hospitality management education

December 08, 2022 •

5 min reading

Emotional intelligence in hospitality management education at EHL SSTH

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Competencies such as presence, mindfulness and connectedness, which have so far been cultivated more in spiritual settings, are becoming increasingly important in scientific, economic, social and pedagogical contexts. 'Affective Hospitality' teaches the importance of creating an emotional connection based on emotionally intelligent behaviors as a key part of hospitality management education, and also as a way of life.  

EHL SSTH - The revised curriculum for the federal program in higher education 

The revised EHL SSTH Curriculum for Swiss Professional Degree “Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education in Hospitality Management” was launched in January 2022 at the EHL Campus Passugg. The course is based on the recently updated new curriculum framework for federally recognized hospitality management schools in Switzerland. As part of the adjustments, EHL Passugg has sharpened the graduate profile of the educational program and defined four roles in which students are trained for three years: Host, Communicator, Entrepreneur and Networker.

A strong focus has been placed on the training of interdisciplinary competencies, which should strengthen the personality and acting skills of our students in their careers. For this purpose, EHL SSTH has developed four modules in Affective Hospitality in cooperation with the Center of Affective Science of the University of Geneva. In January 2022, the first students of the EHL SSTH Passugg started the course. However, it's important to understand why and how Affective Hospitality is much more than just a new subject.Bachelor in International Hospitality Management  See business through customers’ eyes. Enter the job market with a leader’s  perspective.  Discover how we train our students to put customers first.  Discover

Strengthening resilience and the ability to act

We are living in a time where the voices of the 'wokeness' movement [1] are getting louder and louder. Serious discrimination and related structural flaws are trying to be addressed through awareness raising and new frameworks. However, in certain contexts, the impression is created that the "outside" world should adapt to each individual with his or her own unique perception and sensibility, whether it is racism, gender, personal boundary transgressions, cultural background, or dietary preferences. If we really tried to avoid offending and hurting people at all costs through more and more policies, rules, and behavioral guidelines, taking everything and everyone into account, we would probably have very little room to maneuver over the next few years.

The four modules of Affective Hospitality, therefore, aim to train the awareness of self-responsibility and to strengthen resilience and one's own ability to act. The basis for this is first of all the understanding of the nature and tasks of emotions (Module 1: Emotion understanding) and the training of self-awareness and self-regulation (Module 2: Emotion regulation). The awareness that each person creates his or her own emotions and that external circumstances are not "to blame" for our well-being or discomfort must first be digested. The conclusion to be drawn is that we are responsible for our own experience and reality. On this basis, in a second step, empathy and compassion for oneself and for others are practiced (Module 3: Emotion recognition), and emotionally intelligent leadership of people is taught (Module 4: Emotion management).


From egosystem to ecosystem: We need to invest in inner development

Currently, we can observe how more and more people, groups, schools, and organizations are trying to evolve from an egosystem to an ecosystem. That means, according to Otto Scharmer, researcher at MIT, to move from a factual, controlling and market-oriented behavior to a creative, co-creative and collective consciousness.

The fledgling Inner Development Goals (IDG) initiative is also in this vein. When asked why people around the world are not succeeding in consistently addressing and achieving the 17 sustainability goals defined by the UN, the IDG project group formulated the following answer: "there is a blind spot in our efforts to create a sustainable global society: the need for investing in inner development to build sustainable and regenerative futures." The initiative, which is also supported by the United Nations, has developed five categories with 23 competencies and presented them this spring during the first IDG Summit in Stockholm.

Going through these competencies, it is obvious that emotional intelligence could help us far beyond human interaction. Only the recognition that we are not really detached from our surroundings (people, nature, environment) and that there is no separation between our inner and outer world will generate in us the necessary impulse to solve the problems at hand. This personal involvement can only arise when the issues gain an emotional relevance and meaning for us. Competencies such as presence, self-awareness, mindfulness, connectedness, appreciation, trust, sense-making, humility, etc., which have so far been cultivated more in spiritual settings, are becoming increasingly important in scientific, economic and social contexts.


The culture of Affective Hospitality: Willingness to open up

The training of emotional competence for students is therefore only one element of Affective Hospitality at EHL SSTH. The environment in which teaching takes place must also develop in the direction of emotionally competent behavior.

Staff and lecturers at EHL SSTH were introduced to attentive and empathic listening a year ago. According to Otto Scharmer, "listening is the most important and most underrated leadership skill" and it takes a lot of training and introspection to practice true, open-minded listening that is not burdened constantly by our own ideas and thoughts. For the training of empathic listening, EHL Campus Passugg is gradually introducing platforms that support open exchange and mutual understanding between students and staff across departments and hierarchies. For example, the EHL SSTH Family Circle is used to find answers to important campus questions together, or the Baobab Table, an idea from EHL Campus Lausanne, is intended to lower the inhibition threshold in the Food Court to sit down at the table with unknown people and exchange ideas informally and get to know and understand each other better.

At EHL SSTH we want to live what we teach, and it takes time and patience to break down hierarchies and silos to enable a culture of trust that sees students and staff as mature, self-responsible people and where fruitful collaboration, exploration and action are possible. Affective Hospitality means the willingness to open up, to show oneself as vulnerable and approachable, and to make the emotional component just as important as the factual and subject-related one. This affective attitude can be lived out in every single work and study place. It takes courage to venture beyond one's own comfort zone and into a field of uncertainty. But the trust, security and connectedness that underlie an affective culture will enable us to move forward in the future with agility, purpose and new ideas

[1] Wokeness is the attitude and movement of alertness and vigilance. One closely follows what is happening in the world and wants to remove anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, violence, environmental destruction, factory farming, and other evils from it by raising one's voice, in the mass media and in social media, in the streets and in the squares, in schools, colleges, and businesses.

Written by

CSR Coordinator EHL SSTH

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