Depending on the context, soft skills are also called: Social Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Life Skills, Job Skills, People Skills, Success Skills, Essential Skills, Executive Function Skills and even Tough Skills. Different settings might have different terms such as Social Emotional Learning in schools and Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. The title of one article summarizes the range of terms for this topic: Nonacademic skills are key to success. But what should we call them? The article noted that “soft” might not be the best description of these important skills. The word soft could imply weakness or less importance and these skills should not be undervalued. No matter what label is used, these skills are meaningful across the lifespan. Youth learn to practice these skills from family and while at school, young professionals are expected to employ them at work, and adults of all ages use them for leadership in family and work relationships.
Soft skills (as well as the many other previously listed titles) is a broad term used for a variety of themes. Soft skills include both internal or personal attributes as well as external expressions of working well with others. Some common themes in articles, curriculum and research related to soft skills include: Responsibility, Decision Making and Problem Solving, Self-Awareness, Organization, Interpersonal Relationships, Teamwork and Communication.
As mentioned earlier, the terms for soft skills might be different depending on the location or the audience. Individuals have the opportunity to practice and improve soft skills throughout a lifetime! Are there any soft-skills that you would like to improve for personal growth? Do you serve in any roles where you help others improve their soft-skills? For example, parents and teachers of youth of all ages can set an example as a role model as well as introduce, identify and encourage practice of soft skills. Mentors or supervisors on the job can make sure that soft skills are valued and promoted as much as other technical skills. An advantage of soft skills is that they are transferable and applicable for many different life situations including different careers and positions in the workforce.
The ways to learn soft skills are as extensive as the terms and themes associated with them. Soft skills are often taught to very young children through children’s books as well as songs, television shows and videos specifically designed to reinforce educational messages. As children age, their childhood experiences might seem outdated to them, but older youth have the chance to continue learning soft skills in settings such as the classroom, religious and civic organizations, sports teams and community clubs. Adults have some of those same community opportunities to strengthen soft skills as well as participating in online courses, in-person classes and conversations, reading books, following blogs and professional development. In addition to life-long learning, the benefit of soft skills is that they can be practiced anywhere. Keep implementing and expanding your soft skills for an enhanced quality of life. They are essential for success and connection on the job, within the family and out in the community.