Soft skills are classified as a combination of communication, listening skills, self-awareness and influencing skills. In more recent years terms such as social and emotional intelligence have been added to try and build a more professional picture. On the other hand, Technical skills are the abilities and knowledge needed to perform specific tasks. Often technical skills take precedence over soft skills in the workplace.
My challenge is, why the need for hierarchy? Why the need for a technical capability to be rated higher than an ability to engage others, navigate a complex work environment and support others to achieve their goals?
With all this talk of wellbeing in the workplace and the need for employees with empathy, compassion, understanding and self-awareness, is it now that we see a flip in hierarchy? Surely in 2019 soft and technical skills should be seen as complementing the overall capability and resilience of an individual and not be competing for the top prize.
I’m not convinced we should be giving prominence to soft or technical skills. To build a successful culture where you rate every level of the business, commercial success, social engagement and people thriving, would we be best to stop calling it soft skills and call it what it is - people skills.
The implication of the word “soft” is that it is yielding readily or easy yet it seems more of us are lacking in these skills than in a technical skill. The term “people skills” is clear; it requires the capacity to demonstrate your ability to listen and read others, engage and influence, communicate and inspire others to achieve through your words and actions.
If wellness is to define our success, let’s lose the hierarchy and place equal value on people and technical capability. People skills don’t just come from the heart; you need to engage your brain, particularly if you need to learn them. Technical skills don’t just come from your brain; it’s often passion that leads you down that career path.
I know for a fact that I am surrounded by amazing people with great technical skills and great people skills and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Developing people skills is just a matter of seeing the value they bring to your organisation.