Why I Hate ‘Soft Skills’

I love the concept but hate the term – let me explain. 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  – that’s what I love most and do best.

Now, many business people refer to those topics as soft skills and I take offense at that term because it annoys both the communication practitioner and the 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 them.

Makes much more sense to use three simple, clear and non-judgmental 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.