Essential Soft Skills

Figure 1.1: Behavioral skills are learnable.

Photo by JESHOOTS via Unsplash.

It’s Thursday afternoon. On returning to the office, you attend a scheduled meeting with your boss. He pushes a document across the table that reads, “We regret to inform you that your position has been terminated.” Does the termination agreement feel soft under your fingers? Do you feel a bounce in your step as you leave the building? Probably not. Your boss has just delivered a hard message to you. Why, then, do the strategies and methodologies humans use to articulate hard news require soft skills? Arguably, there’s nothing soft about them. Yet all communication skills, whether exercised in an innocuous text message or a heated face-to-face confrontation, are considered soft skills, which unfortunately connotes weakness. But skills like listening, empathy, and patience are arguably the most essential, transferrable skills a person can own. The good news? Interpersonal communication skills—considered by some to be the most complex set of human behavioral skills—are learnable. So, read on and don your hard hat. It’s time to talk strategy.