Soft skills are acquired competences of an emotional and relational nature. Loosely speaking, they encompass all skills that enable us to be better at communicating, engaging and interacting with others.
Training and developing them is often talked about in professional environments, however it is rarely addressed in a practical perspective. One of the most heard-of is emotional intelligence, and its training is unfortunately mostly limited to theoretical explanations without actually creating the conditions for training it and experiencing it in a safer environment.
Because these skills are necessary for teambuilding, leadership development and communication, there is only so much we can learn from a theoretical perspective, and this is why in my workshops I prefer a radically practical approach.
From my point of view developing these skills can only come through experiential learning and I firmly believe that this approach is more valuable than any organizational restructuring or format.
Why? Simply because if you provide a new blueprint or a new tool for your teams, you won’t impact the people’s abilities per se: a weak person with a strong system is still a weak person at his or her core. This is why I work on the person first.
Specifically, there are 5 skills I consider fundamental and we base our work on:
Any team in which members are proficient in those skills is able to automatically be more efficient, self-organize, give and accept honest feedback, ideate better, and most of all decide what organizational culture they need or want for themselves and drive change from the bottom up towards that goal.
This type of training does take time, but with an experiential-based approach followed by some theoretical concept, a team willing to work on them can build and support each other’s learning even after a single workshop. Proficiency takes time, but once understanding and mutual support are in place, teams can work towards it.
Another necessary aspect for their development is awareness. Focusing separately on communication, emotional intelligence and empathy, for example, would be valid in terms of providing specific improvements. If the goal is however to reach more deeply into culture and provoke change from within, you need to make your goals explicit and inform people of what type of skills you are focusing on.