The myth of soft skills

Recently more and more people online bring up the topic of soft skills, its importance at the workplace and influence on the overall hierarchy and mood within the company.
But today I would like to cover its impact on the general productivity and draw a line between soft and so-called “hard skills” and also I would like to dispel a myth of importance soft skills only for managers.

Where all of that came from?

Let’s get back to the origins. The first thing that struck me when I was planning to write this article was why so many people call them “soft” if it takes years to acquire them, which is hard work indeed. And I tried to track down its origin back in time. The very first mention of it dates back to the U.S. Army in the 70s. And it was all about training soldiers. In short, when all the groups of soldiers were trained, all the same, one group was excelled some way. Digging into the process it was discovered that those soldiers were trained a bit unordinary. The main difference was how the group was led which brought them to victory. After that 3 different criteria were created to differentiate soft and hard skills:

  • Degree of interaction with a machine
  • Degree of specificity of behavior to be performed
  • Typical kind of on the job situation

To simplify the definition we can characterize as “soft” skill any skill that involves little or no interaction with a machine, including activities in the situation of great uncertainty in a social environment. Usually, we can’t predict the consequences as there might be different ways to accomplish the same goal with the help of the same soft skills.
If you’re interested in that and want to get more details, I’d recommend reading this article.

What’s in real life?

Getting back to our reality, soft skills are considered to be something only office workers need, especially managers. Those are mostly organizational skills. But looking at big companies we can see that more often it’s a mandatory requirement when hiring personnel. And also for those who operate the machine. Let me explain, no matter how little you interact with real people at work, you still do and this communication and interaction creates the atmosphere and it is a part of a general mood. I believe for each of you is much better to work in a positive environment where each person gets a deserved level of respect no matter what functions this person performs.
Personally, I would define soft skills as a way to find the best approach to a person to achieve a goal.

Now, as for the importance of it, for those who mostly interact with machines and does particular actions. After all, each person is a human being, and occasionally you still share your thoughts and vision on different issues you face with. Eventually, it includes human factor and interaction. Having soft skills would help you not only make your point in eyes of everyone but also find the best way out of the situation without hurting someone’s feelings. And that’s a key for reaching a non-conflict environment which is an ideal thing for everyone who works in a team.

Simple but true.

Let me show you an example. Imagine, there’s team and you were asked to do something, a task, but for some reason, you feel like some details in the description are missing which will complicate the task for you. This applies to your colleagues, clients, and even those in your close surroundingsInstead of just saying “I can’t do it,” you might give it some thought and provide a proper explanation, saying, “I can still do this, but it might take more time than expected, and if you could provide the missing details, I would be able to finish the task much faster.”

You see, it has a huge influence on productivity as one of the key factors. And doesn’t matter how skillful you are and competent if you’re lacking those “unimportant” skills you may find yourself in a situation of high stress and tension whenever you communicate with people. This applies to your colleagues, clients, and even those in your close surroundings.

In conclusion, soft skills are not only real but also, in my opinion, more valuable than hard skills. This is because, although hard skills can be taught through time and effort, they are more straightforward to acquire. In contrast, soft skills often require a trial-and-error approach. However, once you master them, you’ll be amazed at the positive impact they have on productivity and workplace dynamics.