Soft skills have a bad reputation. They are seen as light, fluffy and touchy-feely. Whereas hard skills or vocational skills are put on a pedestal, always taking the top spots on resumes and LinkedIn pages.
In reality, soft skills are the most difficult skills you will ever learn. In most cases, calling them “soft” skills is just an excuse to not put in the hard work required to master them. It relegates them to a lower importance level and allows us to give ourselves a pass on putting in the time and energy.
Why do we need an excuse? It’s undeniable that these skills are some of the most important ones to our professional and personal lives. The way we communicate, build relationships, deal with conflict, give feedback, remain flexible and agile, build resilience, handle change, work in teams and dozens of other soft skills will determine whether we are successful or not – not just at work, but in life.
We need an excuse not to do them because the chance of failure is high. When we learn what we call hard skills or vocational skills, there is usually one way of doing them. There’s a right way and a wrong way. And once we learn how to do them the right way, we’re golden.
However, soft skills can have a hundred different ways we need to learn depending on the situation and the people involved. There’s no straight and narrow path to follow. You will fail, without a doubt, at some point. And chances are it will hurt your ego and pride. They also require you to take a good, hard look in the mirror and assess who you are as a person and what you value and believe. And that’s why we need excuses not to learn them – to call them soft and not as important as other skills. Soft skills require us to put ourselves on the line, to step outside of our comfort zone and take the risk of being vulnerable. They are at the core of who we are as people.
Only those who are willing to constantly put in the time and commitment will become masters of them. But those who do will have a huge leg up on the rest. Because soft skills are the solid foundations upon which all business and life success is built.