Keys to multicultural communication in Switzerland

I am sure most of you know that Switzerland has more to offer than cheese, chocolate and fiscal advantages.As a matter of fact, and to quote Ute Limacher in her excellent post on that matter:

Switzerland is a multilingual country with four national languages: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch (…). But only German, French and Italian maintain equal status as official languages at the national level within the Federal Administration of the Swiss Confederation. According to the federal census of 2000, 63.7% of the Swiss population speaks German, 20.4% French, 6.5% Italian, 0.5% Rumantsch and 9.0% speak other languages.”

For (international) communicators coming into the country with a multinational or simply having to communicate from within a company locally, this might mean a major headache as the language is not the only thing that differs from one region to another. In fact, culturally speaking, every region – not to say every canton –  has its different worldviews, habits, behaviors, understanding of time etc.  The beauty of it is that all of this coexists in one country!

A Swiss from German speaking Switzerland might thus not have the same values as a Swiss from Italian speaking Switzerland and so on. In order to be able to effectively manage or work in teams, communicate internally/externally, launch a marketing campaign etc. you hence need to know exactly how to do this in the different parts of the country and how/where to approach the local structures, media outlets, agencies… In fact, if you do this the right way, communicating effectively and appropriately in Switzerland might even boost your brand image across Europe, if not globally.

In summary, if you are able to:

  • address the right audience with the right words, tools and media outlets
  • know what it means to have Swiss people on your team or be managed by a Swiss
  • know how to deal with the various differences,

You will definitely have a major competitive advantage, without a doubt!

Exactly for that reason, I have decided to team up with a local senior consultant so that we can bring both international/intercultural and local targeted communication strategy/management knowledge together.  We offer it in form of a workshop to international companies and multinationals who are eager to make the most out of their stay in Switzerland. If you are interested in learning more about the offer and what we do, please visit us here or contact me directly here. We are definitely looking forward to hearing from you!

Further reading:

1. On Ute Limacher’s blog:

2. The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation

3. Intercultural thoughts on Switzerland (Jenny Ebermann)



Intercultural thoughts on Switzerland

I have been asked a while ago to contribute to the excellent site of Ute Limacher by writing a post on Switzerland. The post is called “Thoughts on Switzerland and the so-called “Röstigraben” and I invite you to read it here: