image clint cora diversity speaker people skills what are soft skills careers

What Are Soft Skills?
Most Important People Skills For Careers 


What Are Soft Skills?

It’s always great to see students study hard to get good grades.   Decent grades will help guarantee a bright future academically and career wise.  It will enable graduates to get their foot in the door in the fields of their choice.

However, after more than twenty years working in the corporate sector, I can say that grades and even technical skills do not determine how successful a person will be professionally.  Instead, the most important set of skills that will determine how far one will go in his or her career involves dealing with people, ie., people skills.

People skills or soft skills as they are sometimes known, are how effective one deals with many different types of people on a daily basis.  The wider the range of others in terms of ages, cultures and company levels that one can deal with, the better that person’s people skills.  

It doesn’t matter which field it is whether it’s medicine, law, engineering, journalism, the arts, one of the trades or any other career but the most successful individuals in each area are not necessarily the ones who had the highest school grades or are the most technically gifted.  Instead, the top stars in each field are the ones with the best people skills.  

People Skills Not Taught In Schools

Unfortunately, people skills or soft skills, are not usually taught in classrooms at any educational level.  So many students who end up spending all their time and energies during their school years to maximize their grades do not end up with decent people skills, especially if these soft skills were not developed outside of the classroom.  In effect, their development was unbalanced too much towards pure academics. If you asked these students what are soft skills, they wouldn't be able to tell you.

Once these individuals enter the workforce, they will soon realize that those with superior people skills will end up moving up the corporate ladder faster.  Their competition will get promoted through the ranks past them.   If they are lucky, after a few years of learning the hard way, these individuals will learn to develop much needed soft skills and hopefully, management will notice their improvement in social interactions at the office enough to warrant promotions.  

However, most folks in this situation will not be so lucky.  They are either too set in their ways to change or don’t even recognize their own personal deficiencies.  These individuals will have reached a ceiling in their fields relatively quickly in their careers.

The world, both corporate and non-corporate, desperately needs more leaders and this lack of leadership will not be filled anytime soon if the majority of the workforce is lacking in people skills.  

Fortunately, this problem can be addressed in two ways.  For those already in the workforce, companies can utilize seminars and workshops as part of on-going professional education on soft skills including diversity training.  All management potential candidates as well as current management should attend to further develop these skills.  The result will be a much more efficient management which in turn will mean bigger profits.

The other way which should be done at the same time is to expose students at every level and as early as possible to principles of people skills.  Schools in many areas are already becoming quite diverse so such additional development for students in these types of skills will be a natural evolution.  It just has to be made part of the regular educational system somehow, with external trainers and speakers if necessary.  Of course, staff including teachers and professors should also be exposed to their own soft skills development workshops as well since they were most likely not given the opportunity during their own years as students either.

Parents also need to be educated so that they foster a more balanced development for their children.  Academics are important but kids need to learn soft skills as part of their overall development.  Parents should do everything they can to make sure these types of people skills are included.


 

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