As per the dictionary definition, hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers. Come to the hospitality industry – the definition gets tweaked a bit.
The core stays the same but when it comes to rendering hospitality to run a successful establishment – it entails a bit more than just entertaining and generous reception, and that’s where building the right skills comes into the picture.
What are soft skills?
During the process of hiring, companies judge the candidates on two broad skill sets – hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the tangible skills such as degrees, diplomas or certifications. The soft skills are the intangible skills – These are a permutation of character traits, attitude, interpersonal skills, social skills, efficiency to communicate, intelligence, and emotional quotient amongst many other.
Hospitality industry thrives on soft skills which are of paramount importance while serving people. People skills – as soft skills loosely called, involve:
- The ability to solve problems with the least discontent to all the involved parties
- Efficient communication with co-workers as well as customers
- Delegation of work to maintain the workflow
- Building a dynamic team
- Resolving conflicts
Importance of developing soft skills is often undervalued in our education system where the focus lies on acquiring hard skills. People often forget that technical skills can only get you a job; it is the soft skills that determine if you get to keep the job especially in the hospitality industry.
How to Build Soft Skills?
If you are someone aiming to build a successful career in this industry, here are five tips to help you build soft skills –
Active listening is vital to the hospitality industry. When a customer is raising a grievance, you need to understand and hear her out. Active listening helps in understanding the problem which, in turn, helps in providing accurate or satisfactory solutions.
Active listening skills can be developed by paying attention to every detail about what the person is saying. The most important thing to incorporate is to let the person finish before you provide your inputs. Also, the second most important thing to remember is not to assume. Providing solutions based upon assumptions can be lethal in the hospitality industry.
Get rid of the negative connotation around criticism. If someone is criticising, treat it as an opportunity to learn and improve to provide a better experience in the future. You could receive personal criticism, entailing your personality traits or professional criticism coming in the form of feedback on the service you offer.
To build this soft skill, you need to look at criticism with an open mind without taking it personally. Act upon the feedback and if you notify the person who brought it into your notice – that would be the cherry on top!
Be Open to Different Perspectives
Every coin has two sides. Having a 360-degree view of the issue at hand is crucial in tacking with it. Every person’s imagination and problem-solving ability is restricted to their personal experiences and skills. Every member of the team brings their own experiences and ideas to the table. However, problems can be successfully resolved only when you are willing to look at the problem from someone else’s point of view.
To build this skill set, listen and analyse what the other person is saying. The other person can be a team member or customer. Understanding their perspective will help in providing a holistic solution.
Empathy is one of the most important (but least practiced) virtues in today’s time. As Stephen Covey once said, “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get creative in solving problems.”
To practice empathy, you need to learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoe to understand where it is biting.
The global village phenomenon has blurred the boundary lines especially in the hospitality industry where one is exposed to people from multiple cultures. It is essential to understand and learn about the local culture of the people you are working for as well as the people your serving to. The last thing you would want is to disrespect someone’s cultural values.
This is the most accessible soft skill to hone. Read and learn as much as you can about a culture.
The hospitality industry is one of the most exciting industries to work in. It provides an exposure that no other industry does. You get to learn about people, different personalities, cuisines, cultures, places, etc. The only deterrent to your growth here could be your soft skills. Explore and learn to build your soft skills and no force can stop you!