The time has come to blow the whistle on two words that do well on their own but must never be put side by side: soft skills. When ignored, these two words can derail a career and a life.
What exactly are soft skills? The term refers to competencies such as communication, time management, problem-solving, working with teams, selling, negotiating and basically being able to work well with others. A common definition of soft skills is being able “to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” Sounds pretty good so far, right?
Sadly, the term soft skills has a public relations problem. For instance, what do you think of when you hear the word soft? Its many definitions include “demanding little work or effort.” Is it any wonder why the first thing to be cut from a company’s training budget is the training in soft skills? Who would want to fund programs that teach skills that demand little work or effort?
If you Google the word hard—soft’s evil twin—you’ll see it defined as “requiring a great deal of endurance or effort.” So, it sounds like hard skills are those that you can really sink your teeth into. Hard skills refer to such noble tasks such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs.
But here’s a simple question: When was the last time you heard of someone losing their job, losing a key client, or being derailed in their life because they couldn’t type well enough, do math in their head accurately enough, or use software efficiently enough? These are rarely the issues that hold us back, because if there is a deficiency in any of these areas, there are numerous options to enable you to correct it....
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