Hard Facts About Soft Skills

I remember when the concept of soft-skills meant just that: soft. They were seen as weak and squishy. Fifteen years ago I managed an employee assistance program, working with “troubled” or “troubling” employees on how to play better in the sandbox. As a clinical psychologist I appreciated the importance of emotional intelligence, communication and relationship skills. And my corporate clients seemed to appreciate it too since they would refer employees to us for help in these areas. With one caveat. They usually referred as a last resort, after all else failed or when the employee was already half way out the door. The message was pretty clear; soft-skills might be important, but they are a set thing, and people can’t really change. You either have them, or you don’t.

We’ve come a long way. This article (http://www.cutimes.com/2016/10/25/soft-skills-rule) charts the progression of understanding around the power and impact of soft-skills. Today, the research has caught up with what we’ve known all along; social-emotional intelligence, people skills, relationship and communication competencies, and teamwork are the critical differentiators. With one caveat. It seems that companies still think soft-skills can’t be taught, so they “hire for soft-skills, train for technical skills.” All their effort goes into assessment and hiring. I guess we are only half-way there since investment on training and soft-skills development is lagging.

Soft-skills CAN be taught. At Next Element we have nine years of outcomes data, case studies, and testimonials to prove it. Sure, there are some limits on a person’s capacity for social-emotional skills. And, like any strength, it’s a muscle group that can developed with the right kind of practice and training. We have the training and tools to do it. We see it happen every day! This is why we are so hopeful about the future! 

Do you have a story of developing soft-skills? Do you believe they can be learned? Will you share? 

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2016

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