I believe the term “Soft Skills” has become a misnomer. When I was explaining my work to a group of young people, a 20 something cut me short ” Oh, I understand” he said ” You are into soft skilling. Quite easy to teach that. My sister’s friend is the expert in soft skills. She has been trainer for 8 months”.

That was a new one on me. I could understand the first part of his sentence since being “into” something has become part of today’s language. People say they are “into HR”, “into leather exports” or “into consulting”. But “soft skilling”? And can one become an expert with 8 months experience?

His own example was a case in point. He may have been great technically but what he said displayed a definite lack of sensitivity and inadequate communication skills. It looked like he could do with some help from his sister’s friend himself.

I pointed out that the so called “soft skills” are perhaps harder to learn than the traditional hard skills which make up technical competence. I am glad to find that others echo my thoughts. A recent article from the Sunday Times explains the strong need felt for soft skills in British industry. It goes on to speak of how individual professionals should practice the skills learnt during training.

To me the major soft skills are:

  • Interpersonal skills – the ability to relate to others
  • Communication skills – the ability to convey thoughts and ideas

Often these prove to be the differentiator between average and great performance. No amount of soft skills can substitute technical competence but without soft skills your technical competence won’t get you anywhere.

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This is the 125 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success