I hate the term "soft skills" - Mindset by Pinky

I hate the term “soft skills”

I hate the term ‘soft skills”

I am not sure how this phrase became popular and gets banded about. I coach hundreds of people online from all over the world and occasionally when I hear the phrase ‘soft skills’ it makes my skin crawl. I hate it. 


Soft skills are the hardest to build. There is nothing soft about mindset, communication, discipline, trust and courage. I am not talking about technical skills and they don’t show up on a spreadsheet. When I speak with leaders and executives I always ask, ‘what is the biggest challenge that you face?’ 

Not one answers technical skills. 

Not one.

Usually, I hear ‘my biggest challenge is mindset or communication.’ 

People and leadership skills are directly related to profitability. They are skills that matter and are crucial to the success of any business. 

The lack of attention to people skills results in dysfunctional work settings, increased business costs and mis-hires. 

Perhaps we need to start referring to these as essential skills. 

The word ‘soft’ is misleading. It suggests that these skills are easy to get and take little effort to exercise. Freshly clean towels are soft, kittens are soft. People skills are most definitely not soft. As most organisations have discovered the acquisition of people skills is challenging and not about ratios or spreadsheets. Over indexing on performance leads organisations to do a terrible job of identifying leadership attributes which include, listening, emotional intelligence, communication- how to have difficult conversations and negotiate.

There is no such thing as soft skills. Great organisations align themselves with great culture and identify toxic leaders before hiring. Resulting in better performance, because teams are happier and are more productive. Time to start changing the irrelevant term “soft” and start using “essential.” 

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