Let’s get rid of the term “soft skills”
“Soft skills” are powerful human skills.
“Soft skills” is an inadequate term to describe the uniquely human skills that are vital to creating a robust, flexible and diverse job market, one that is accessible to ALL and one that can absorb, make use of and grow from the wealth of human potential and capacity.
Why do we continue to categorize - and minimize - both the diversity and importance of human capacities and skills as “soft”? Increasing emphasis on human skills is slowly shifting attitudes and practices and yet we persist in using a phrase that carries a pejorative connotation. “Soft skills” continue to be perceived as less vital and less valuable to the job market than “hard” skills.
An emphasis on hard skills in fact minimizes the value of innate capacities each of us has at our fingertips and which bring our work to life. It dismisses the wealth of expertise and mastery we continuously gain from our unique experiences. It ignores the relational reality of human life and the importance of cultivating healthy relationships to build communities that invite full participation and contribution.
What we need are healthy, collaborative work environments that become more valuable through the connections made from diverse talents and capacities. These require human skills. Human skills include our ability to be flexible and open toward others. They include our capacity to weigh various perspectives, differing viewpoints and ethical issues when solving problems. Human skills enable us to deepen our awareness and to bring that awareness to our relationships, the environments we work in, to our own conduct and behavior. Human skills include our capacity for humility, understanding, empathy and compassion towards others and towards ourselves. These skills include our ability to care about our colleagues, the work we do and the organizations we contribute to. Human skills include the ability, yes ability, to make mistakes, learn from them and then to make corrections.
First, we must value these distinctly human skills. Second, we need to educate and mentor our youth in these skills. And third, education and business need to collectively believe that these skills are essential.
When we value human skills, we value what diverse talent brings to our organizations, we cultivate and incorporate the expanding potential of our employees so that their work has movement and growth, we value the power of collaboration, we work to create relationally healthy work environments, we foster deeper understanding and awareness of ourselves and others and ultimately, we value and therefore strive for an inclusive, engaged and motivated work force which is anything but “soft”.
Britt-Mari is an integrative career counselor with an extensive background in existential psychology, career counseling and teaching. She helps clients create personally empowered solutions to career transition, burnout and the building of meaningful careers. To inquire about individual sessions contact her at email@example.com