Why intercultural skills is gaining in importance in all industries?

June 28, 2019 •

3 min reading

Intercultural skills is gaining in importance in all industries

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Social interactions and soft skills are increasingly gaining value

In a globalized and fast-moving world characterized by digital affinity and rapidly increasing in mobility, social interactions and soft skills will gain more and more value.

As part of the Affective Hospitality Vision of the EHL Swiss school of Tourism and Hospitality, measures have been developed to raise students' awareness of the various cultural peculiarities. The aim is to strengthen emotions, identity and acceptance in the context of different cultural backgrounds.

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Different cultures can often lead to misunderstandings

Hans Schweizer, sales engineer at a Swiss machine tool company, was asked by a Senegalese company whether he could provide information about a machine and his company. Already the formal and for him long-winded request seemed strange to Hans Schweizer. Subsequently, he confirmed receipt of the inquiry and demanded precise plans for the plant in order to be able to draw up a solid and serious offer.

There was no response to the first e-mail. The second message was followed by inaccurate information stating that he was welcome in Senegal so that people could get to know each other and show the headquarters of the Senegalese company. Hans Schweizer thanked politely by e-mail for the invitation, but doubted the seriousness of the Senegalese request. Situations like these happen every day and lead to business interruptions and frustrations.

Both companies are in a field of tension and do not understand the other person. Among other things, this is due to the fact that each protagonist perceives the situation from his own "cultural perspective" and regards his own values and behaviour as correct. In this case, it would certainly have helped if the Swiss sales engineer had made a telephone or Skype call and first showed interest in his potential partner and the company he represented.

Self-reflection and empathy promote intercultural competence to act

Intercultural competence begins with ourselves. If we are aware of our values and live them, we are in a position to classify each other's actions and reactions better and to react efficiently to them. Soft skills such as curiosity for the business partner combined with intercultural competence and empathy are recipes for success in a globalised world.

The EHL Passugg systematically builds up subjects in its hotel management training which teach a high degree of emotional and intercultural competence and sharpen the soft skills of the students. Because only those who understand the guests can awaken emotions in them and offer them an unforgettable guest experience.

Michael Büchi is an intercultural consultant, mediator, coach and supervisor FH and owner of the Büchi Intercultural Counsels. He passes on his experience, which he has gained mainly on the Asian and African continents, to the students of the SSTH Swiss School of Tourism & Hospitality in Passugg, among other things within the scope of his teaching assignment.

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Lecturer - EHL Passugg