Monday 22 May 2017

What should you call your soft skills?

At the CIPS East of Scotland branch meeting last week I gave a talk on Soft Skills - skills that for example include motivation, communication, influencing, change management, decision making, time management and so on (more on what I spoke about here).

One of the subjects we touched on was the use of 'soft' skills as the term used to describe these essential skills.

I've ranted before that soft skills aren't something that only those in touch with their emotions have. They're something we all have, and use daily. Soft skills are how we do what we do, and their effective use will make a huge impact on the outcome we get.

When I asked about the use of the word 'soft' last week, people suggested the term conveyed that they were unimportant or weak skills.

You only have to look at the power of water ie something seemingly very soft to realise that soft shouldn't mean weak nor unimportant.

It still raises the question about whether we should give these skills a different name? What about:
  • People skills
  • Emotional Intelligence 
  • Behavioural skills
  • Essential skills
  • Social skills
  • Humanity skills 
I suspect however, that we end up with the same issue. Perhaps it's not 'soft' that generates the belief that they're unimportant, it's that they're unconscious, below the surface, and linked to our emotions and our humanity that makes them scary, and something therefore to be ignored or avoided. (Perhaps time to let go of the musts, oughts and shoulds about what is and isn't appropriate in business?) 

With that in mind, we can call them what we want and people are still going to resist exploring them.

One solution might be to link the skills to the outcome they help you achieve, for example why not call them:
  • The skills that get you the job
  • The skills that get you through your day
  • The skills that help you prepare for your retirement!
  • The skills that mean you can afford to go on fabulous holidays 
  • The skills that help you cope with people in your life 
  • The skills that add meaning to your day
  • The skills that keep the roof over your head
  • The skills that get you out of bed every day
  • The skills that help you decide what to to
  • The skills that keep you out of danger (or try to)
  • The skills that help you open your mouth and say what you want to say when you want to say it
  • The skills that help you change a boring day into an exciting one
  • and so on
My recommendation therefore is to find a term that makes most sense for you personally. A term for the skills that will inspire your action to review your current competency of a skill, and also inspire action to develop the skill further too.  

What will you call these very essential skills that support your humanity?

Alison Smith
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools +44(0)7770 538159

I've developed a Soft Skills Toolkit. The aim of the toolkit is to provide discussion points for personal or group exploration of your soft skills, allowing you to understand what options you have, should you decide to develop a particular soft skill.

There's 2 versions of the toolkit - Dear Procurement, with love from your soft skills aimed at procurement professionals, and Dear Human Being, with love from your soft skills aimed at a wider business audience. They're only £4.99 for personal use, with pricing available on request for organisational use.

No comments:

Post a Comment