Ain’t Nothing’ Soft About It

Allow me another ‘I Don’t Get It’ rant. This time …  I Don’t Get ‘Soft Skills’.

Full disclosure here – I’ve dedicated my entire career to empowering business leaders to enhance their workplace communication skills. Taking away some of their pain when they interact with colleagues, staff, managers or customers in writing, in person and in presentations is what I love most and do best. Now, many business people refer to those topics as ‘soft skills’ and I take some degree of offense at that.

That term annoys both the communication practitioner and wordsmith inside me. I don’t get why they have to call them ‘soft’ – as if these skills are less important, necessary or difficult to master than ‘hard’ skills. And based on years of teaching these skills, ain’t nothing soft about it.

Makes much more sense to use three simple, clear and non-judgemental terms to describe workplace skills and knowledge – technical skills, managerial skills and … wait for it … interpersonal skills. ‘Interpersonal’ is even clearer than ‘soft’ with much less negative connotation.

So, if you don’t get it either, then simply pledge that the lame phrase ‘soft skills’ will never again pass your lips. I have … and it feels good.  Thanks … I feel better now.

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