Part 2: My 12+4 On Board Soft Skills


      The aim of the first part is to help skippers to acquire and develop the necessary certain sets of transversal skills and attitudes at the personal, interpersonal/societal level of the professional skippers. The structure of this part is as follows:

      1. Crisis management
      2. Dealing with stress
      3. Problem-solving
      4. Interpersonal skills at work!
      5. Team working
      6. Work ethics
      7. Keeping a positive attitude
      8. Courtesy
      9. Time management
      10. Negotiation skills that make the difference
      11. Dealing with ‘difficult’ people
      12. Understanding body language
      1. +4 Skills to come across the right way
      • Emotional intelligence
      • Creative thinking
      • Empathy
      • Ability to motivate



      What is it?


      • A time of intense difficulty or danger

      • A time when a difficult or important decision must be made.

      • A stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; a turning point.


      • Crisis management is the application of strategies designed to help an organization deal with a sudden and significant negative event.

      • A crisis can occur as a result of an unpredictable event or as an unforeseeable consequence of some event that had been considered a potential risk.

      • In either case, crises almost invariably require that decisions be made quickly to limit damage on board. For that reason, one of the first actions in crisis management planning is to identify an individual to serve as a crisis manager. In this case, the skipper has this role.


      Individual Health and Well-being

      • Fatigue

      • Stress

      • Health

      Soft skills

      • Non-Technical skills

      • Situation Awareness

      • Decision making and Cognitive Demands

      • Communications

      • Language and Cultural Diversity

      • Teamwork


      What is it?

      The concept of “stress” was introduced (according to Lazarus M., 1966) in 1944 and refers to any kind of change that causes physical, emotional or physiological tension. Stress conditions can be divided into three groups – short, transient, and chronic.

      The ability to manage stress is one of the key abilities to deal with multiple human problems, both internal and external (for example, with work). Susceptibility to stress is an individual indicator. Some people act destructively and others show resilience. According to data from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, stress is the second most important factor related to the health problems in the workplace. Almost one in four workers are affected by it, and studies show that between 50% and 60% of all lost working days are associated with stress.

      The source of stress can be found both inside the person and outside. Accordingly, they differ:

      • internal sources of stress – anger, jealousy, insult, lying, deceit, betrayal, delusion, etc.
      • external stressors – boss’s inadequacy, excessive or too low workload; unfavorable psychological microclimate among colleagues, role-playing conflict; too much information; high responsibility; unhealthy working conditions, fire, flood, industrial accidents, etc.



      What is it?

      Problem is an interactive relation between a subject and its surroundings, which incorporates the inner conflict that is solved by the subject by searching of transitions from initial condition to the final condition (aim).

      The human beings are in their lives every day confronted with the situations that are for them contradictory, containing obstructions that have to be overcome in order to achieve the aim, or the human beings experience various difficulties. To cope with these situations, it is desirable to apply the thought processes enabling the generation of knowledge necessary for a successful solving or removing obstructions.

      Living and working with the same people in a compact area (in this case on a yacht with crew) can have its challenges. However, if you know how to approach the issue beforehand, even if you work hard, under stress and in small spaces, you will be ready to solve those unwanted situations before it gets messy. No one truly enjoys confrontation, but when it does have to happen, do not beat around the mast.

      A good skipper is the one with good organizational and social skills. Good organization is the essence of a safe and pleasant cruise, where the skipper keeps coordinating the wishes and demands of his guests with the real and feasible possibilities. Most of the time on the yacht, the skipper must deal with the people. A good skipper is the one responsible for a good atmosphere on the yacht and guest satisfaction and the one who must react without losing control of oneself in case of misunderstandings (problems) that may occur on the yacht.

      There are several kinds of problems that may happen on a yacht, or even more importantly, between different subjects. On yachts with a single skipper, the problem may occur between the skipper and the guests, between the skipper and the marina staff, between the skipper and the maintenance company, between the skipper and the charter company. On a yacht with more crew, the problem may occur between the skipper and the crew. The following paragraphs will present only the problem between the skipper and the guests on the yacht and the way it can be solved.



      What is it?

      By ‘difficult’ people we mean people with certain personality traits or emotional characteristics that make it difficult for you to communicate with them. The ability to effectively cope with such people while maintaining a healthy work environment is known as the skill of dealing with difficult people.

      Remember the basics:

      Listen.  Stay calm.  Don’t judge. One response does not fit all.

      Don’t act defensively.  Don’t return anger with anger.  Set limits and boundaries.

      Trust your instincts.

      You can read more on the subject here:



      What is it?
      Hundreds of skills could be defined as interpersonal, all used to varying degrees in the workplace depending on where you work. We will here focus on three of them, which are the most important for your profession. These are two communication skills (verbal and listening skills) and persuasion/influencing skills.



      Team working

      Working on a yacht is a very demanding job for the Yacht-Master and crew. In order to successfully solve these challenges, there is a need for cooperation and interaction between the yacht crew. Each yacht crew member is an individual who needs to add value to the wellbeing of the entire yacht life. This idea is the basis of the spirit “one for all and all for one” on board. This idea leads to the unity of the crew and the principle of team working. Working together means teamwork and the successful application of this principle depends on respecting the rules. By studying the entire activity onboard yacht, it is obvious that it is almost entirely based on teamwork, i.e. each activity requires a supposed minimum of two people for completion. In a working environment like yachts, teamwork can be the basis for having pleasure and performing safe work activities.



      Team working

      What is Work Ethics about?

      Maya Angelou has said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” According to Wikipedia, “work ethic is a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities. It is a set of values-centred on the importance of work and manifested by determination or desire to work hard.”

      In general, we can agree that the set of values comprising one’s Work Ethic leads to enhanced professionalism, higher productivity, solid self-respect and personal work-life balance. Moral philosophers and social scientists present a variety of factors and assumptions upon which the development of what is considered a “Good” Work Ethic is based. In some cases, these factors can seem conflicting –depending on the ideological stance of the particular scientist. For the purposes of the present training, we can agree that for practical reasons the development of a Social Work Ethic (as in society-sanctioned), is essential for smooth interpersonal relations and a high level of quality services at the workplace. This pertains to conditions among working personnel but also between working personnel and customers.



      What is it?

      When people think of having a positive attitude, they probably think it’s little more than plastering a smile on their face and trying to think happy thoughts. But it’s more than that.
      A positive attitude is something that goes deeper and has an effect beyond surface cheer. Negative attitudes promote fear, and a narrowing of focus and the mind, while positive attitudes do the opposite. No one should live in a constant state of “fight or flight”, but negative attitudes create exactly that scenario.

      Case studies have also shown that having a truly positive attitude makes your view of life seem broad, full of possibilities. That view leads to actually living your life in a way that makes it natural to be exposed to and acquire new skills.



      What is it?

      Definition of Oxford Dictionary: “courtesy” is the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others.
      Courtesy is the use of polite manners. A courteous person is respectful and considerate of others. Kindness and consideration can build one`s reputation as a courteous person. Courteous behaviour requires a selfless attitude and gives a perspective on others’ situations. It is directly related to showing respect.
      “Avoid telling others what to do, interrupting and criticizing. Instead, make a habit of asking, listening, complimenting and thanking to show respect, says psychologist Carl Pickhardt in his article “Adolescence and the Power of Parental Courtesy” on Learning how to respect others can benefit someone in both personal and business relationships.
      People who lack courtesy may have trouble with their clients and colleagues. Showing unconcern for others’ feelings, a critical attitude and inconsiderate behaviour create an atmosphere of tension and frustration, notes Pickhardt. Such people easily offend others. Sometimes emotions are suppressed either from the offender or the offended person. This may lead to an accumulation of tension, negative emotions and isolation from a social or business relationship. Respect towards others should be standard behaviour in the workplace, regardless of role, rank, or reputation. (Source)



      What is it?

      Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.
      In any disagreement, individuals understandably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position (or perhaps an organisation they represent). However, the principles of fairness, seeking mutual benefit and maintaining a relationship are the keys to a successful outcome. However, general negotiation skills can be learned and applied in a wide range of activities.  Negotiation skills can be of great benefit in resolving any differences that arise between you and others.



      What is it?

      Definitions of time management usually revolve around the ability to use time productively and efficiently and let you make the most out of every minute. However, David Allen says “You can’t manage time anyway, but you can manage yourself during the time, so what you manage is your attention, your focus.”

      Time management skills can help you balance conflicting demands on your time. The most productive people manage their time exceptionally well because they focus on results, not activities.



      Body language is a type of nonverbal communication in which physical behaviour, as opposed to words, are used to express or convey information. Such behaviour includes facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space. No matter how advanced our technology gets, face-to-face communication will be always powerful helping us to better communicate with others and/or interpreting what others might be trying to convey.

      Body language exists in both animals and humans. Britain, along with most of Northern Europe and the Far East, is classed as a “non-contact” culture, in which there is very little physical contact in daily interactions. By comparison, the Middle East, Latin America, and Southern Europe are considered “high contact cultures” where physical touch is a large part of socializing. While the “okay” gesture, is used to mean “okay” or “all right”, in some parts of Europe, however, the same signal is used to imply you are nothing. In some South American countries, the symbol is actually a vulgar gesture.


      Ability to motivate

        What is it? The skipper should be able to motivate the crew members (if any) as well as the tourists. This ability is one of the soft skills which the skipper should develop and improve. It’s not a secret that the motivation is driven by emotion. When the skipper would like to stimulate the crew/tourists to take part in an activity, he should aim at their emotions. The act of motivation is an act of an emotion. The goal of the skipper should be to achieve a strong emotional involvement of the people on board in any of the performed activities. For that purpose, he should be in the leader role on board and aware of the general mood and also direct the tourists from one into another of the prepared activities in advance. The skipper should behave to the crew members as to colleagues and persons he could rely on, and not as to subordinates. The effective way of motivation is not only through verbal actions but mostly through physical acts. The skipper should personally initiate the activities included in the trip program. He should show the tourists what he wants them to do for any of the activities. The skipper should be educated on how to develop his ability to motivate. Read more  

      Emotional intelligence

        What is emotional intelligence and why is it important for everyday life? Emotional intelligence (EI), also called the Emotional Quotient or EQ, refers to the “ability to identify, understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, but also to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior and influence that of others” (Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1990). People with high EI handle everyday situations much better than others because they understand better and respond better to emotions of others. Studies show that people with higher EI are usually much more successful in life. Read more  

      Creative thinking

        What is it? Creative thinking is the mental process of generating new and original ideas that have value. Creative thinking requires space and time. Often the only difference between creative and uncreative people is self-perception. Creative people see themselves as creative and give themselves the freedom to create. Uncreative people do not think about creativity and do not give themselves the opportunity to create anything new. Being creative may just be a matter of setting aside the time needed to take a step back and allow yourself to ask yourself if there is a better way of doing something. At its core, creativity is the ability to see familiar things in a new light, and the first step to being more creative is training yourself to look for opportunities to improve the systems, processes or solve the problems around you. Creativity is just connecting things. Read more


        What is it? Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. (Wikipedia)

      Read more