What are soft skills and how do we learn them?
Why are they key to our success?
How can we assist our youth to acquire these all important skills?
What are soft skills?
This is your attitude, your work ethic, your communication skills, your emotional intelligence and many more personal attributes that make it attractive to communicate and work along with others.
In Wikipedia it states, “Soft skills is a term often associated with a person’s “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills contrast to hard skills, which are generally easily quantifiable and measurable (e.g. software knowledge, basic plumbing skills).
A person’s soft skill EQ is an important part of their individual contribution to the success of an organization. Particularly those organizations dealing with customers face-to-face are generally more successful if they train their staff to use these skills. Screening or training for personal habits or traits such as dependability and conscientiousness can yield significant return on investment for an organization. For this reason, soft skills are increasingly sought out by employers in addition to standard qualifications.”
What are hard skills?
Hard skills are the technical skills that people require to achieve certain tasks such as math, reading, typing, writing, using software programs. The dentist needs to know how to fill cavities and the accountant needs to know accounting to be qualified.
Hard skills are required to get an interview and subsequently a job too. But what is required to keep that job? This is where soft skills come in. Soft skills are broader and arguably much more critical than hard skills. They are personal attributes which determine how well a person gets along with people, their career prospective and overall job performance. Some of the principle soft skills include integrity, common sense, motivation, determination, responsibility, responsiveness, and sense of humour.
Who do you prefer to work with?
The professional dentist, doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. who treats you like a person and not just a number, are the ones you like to work with and recommend to others. They are pleasant, answer your questions and take an interest in you.
The soft skills play a vital role within any team. This includes clarity of communication, inclusion of others, creative thinking, adaptability, flexibility, conflict resolutions, negotiation, collaboration, accountability, coaching and mentoring. These skills enable all of us to contribute to the organization’s vision, strategy and ultimate success.
The soft skills enable us to excel as a leader. We are able to solve problems, motivate others and build our teams. The key to future success is knowing how to get along with people and displaying a positive ‘can-do’ attitude.
In most case, these skills are not taught to the majority of us. We have to learn them from the ‘school of hard knocks’. However, if we offer our youth the ability to learn these critical soft skills, we will be greatly assisting them to be successful as they enter adulthood.
How do we improve our soft skills?
In three words, Practice, Practice, Practice.
Improvement takes practice over time. Soft skills are not something you can just study in a book and expect to get better. Improving soft skills is fundamentally about changing behaviour and thought patterns toward yourself and others.
That is where group coaching for youth comes in. By working together as a group, they can learn these important soft skills. These skills are not taught in many other places. Because our groups can and should include youth of various ages, backgrounds, and cultures, this offers them an excellent opportunity to practice, practice, practice so that they can acquire these critical skills.
What do you think about how we can assist them to build up their soft skills? Your thoughts, comments and suggestions are always welcomed.
Wishing you lots of love and laughter, as always.
Victoria, BC Canada