Building trust in Switzerland

In his book “ The speed of trust”, Stephen M.R Covey underlines and develops the 13 behaviors to adopt to build trust:

Because for a successful job search, the ability to establish quickly a trustful relationship is key, I have tried to understand if the 13 behaviors had a good chance of success in Switzerland.

During one of the group sessions I monthly attend with Swiss professionals and entrepreneurs, I asked the group for help and ask them to rank the 13 behaviors in order of importance for building trust in Switzerland.

At first, my colleagues were disoriented.
They asked me to re-explain.
Then, they asked if they could propose alternative behaviors as they did not feel the 13 ones were adapted.

After a first reaction of surprise, I embraced the opportunity and we all started to brainstorm on the Swiss behaviors of trust and obtained a new list, which I have classified into 5 blocks:

  1. Be precise and rigorous

  2. Adopt a sober attitude

  3. Demonstrate respect

  4. Conform, conform and conform!

  5. Remain at your place

Although it was surprising at first (because I thought the 13 behaviors of Covey were universal), I indeed find this outcome quite well aligned with what I have observed during my 12 years in Switzerland as being the behavior of many Swiss in professional environments.

For those who are interested in the details, I list here below the inputs received during this meeting:

  • Be on time,
  • Avoid botching up task: Take time to deliver a precise and complete job,
  • Act according to your words,
  • Turn out to be effective in your speech,
  • Bring solutions and be pragmatic,
  • Be genuine,
  • Be discrete, don’t be too flashy,
  • Do not show off,
  • Be modest,
  • Adopt a sober dressing style in line with your role,
  • Do not hide yourself under a procedural smokescreen,
  • Remain simple,
  • Accept and respect cultural differences,
  • Have references, local if possible,
  • Adapt your language to your interlocutor (in Switzerland, people speak many languages but it might not be their mother tongue), avoid complicated vocabulary and tortuous expressions,
  • Respect conformity,
  • Behave like others,
  • Trust  the other(s) first,
  • Listen to the others,
  • Don’t try to have the last word,
  • Do not correct others’ speaking mistakes (Switzerland has several dialects, the verbal expressions might vary a lot),
  • Leave place for the others in a discussion, do not monopolise time and attention,
  • Adapt your speech and your attitude to your rank and role,
  • Respect private sphere,
  • Do not immediately behave as if you know the person if you don’t,
  • Stay in your role: do not over-step on others’ role and responsibility.
A full program!!

All the best in your next steps building trust in Switzerland!

Resource category;

Must-know about Switzerland


Sandrine van den Oudenhoven


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