Name of the soft skill module

Innate transversal skills that help with everyday activities in every area of human life and help to deliver the work.

 

Introduction to the theme

Soft skills are where the human being is. They are the interpersonal skills that a person can learn and develop over time.

The “Soft Skills Module” introduces you to what soft skills are and how to identify and recognise them in yourself, Subsequently, facilitating the work in the other Reboot training modules. Soft skills are innate and non-cognitive traits which also manifest as skills and can be further developed to serve for different purposes from personal life to work life.

Soft skills are sector-agnostic. They manifest in everyday challenges and daily behaviour, and as they are very related to the emotional side of human nature, therefore the way soft skills are shown may be influenced by the situation and the different external stimuli, hindering even more their quantification. Soft skills are for instance, problem solving, creativity, readiness for change, internationality, people skills and communication.

While hard skills are relatively easy to measure through qualifications and certificates, soft skills are widely difficult to quantify.

 

Why is this an important skill?

Soft skills are required to deliver the work and its content. For instance, learning theory and technical elements are not enough for an engineer, but soft skills, such as for instance problem solving and people skills are needed to deliver the work.

Soft skills are sector agnostic and they are needed in every sector. They also help to transfer between jobs and positions as one brings them to the new occupation or position, which can also be natural professional evolution. Soft skills are accumulated and related to tacit knowledge.

The aspect of facilitating to deliver any work and flexibility are important for an employer in the constantly evolving and dynamic work life. Soft skills make an employee more adaptable and flexible for an employer and hence more valuable, but they also protect an employee in a constantly changing work life.

Just like a hard skill, soft skills can be learnt through study, practice and application. No matter what skill you want to improve, you can put your newfound knowledge to use with practice.

 

Open Education Resources + Icebreakers

Have a look at some of the following materials before completing the exercises. Reflect on how and when these skills have been applied by you or someone else.

 

Estimated time:

30 – 65 minutes

 

Exercises to help you develop this skill

 

Exercise 1: Soft Skills Spotting

Overview:

In this exercise, learners will learn to detect and recognise their soft skills. This ability will further help them in the three skills modules and in career-skills flexibility and portfolio structuring.

Estimated time to complete: 15 – 45 minutes

Materials needed:

    • Paper, a journal or a notebook, any material to take notes

    • Pens

Difficulty: Medium

The Activity:

We are so entwined with our soft skills that we may not even notice them or regard skills or anything special. Yet, we all manifest and apply soft skills all the time. Fortunately detecting soft skills is simpler than it first sounds like: what you need is examples and narrations of situations, discussing them with someone or someone else telling them to you.

Identifying your soft skills is not necessarily something you have to do alone, either. Ask friends, colleagues, and even former employers which soft skills come to mind when they think of you. You can also ask them to bring up specific examples of when you used that soft skill well and stories where those manifested. You might even discover things about yourself that you did not know before. For example, if you think you are disorganized, but everyone you talk to points to your organisational skills as somewhere you excel, you might want to consider changing that perception of yourself – and including it on your resume.

Soft skills are not only developed in work life but in all areas of life and they feed from any high and low points of life. Often low moments are indeed the best teachers for developing soft skills.

1. Look at the list of areas where, for instance, one develops soft skills:

  1. a) Mapping your own history, events and experiences in life, both good and bad. For instance, moving to a new environment may tell plenty of your organisational skills or overcoming negative experience about your problem solving and resilience. Obstacles can be moments of growth and also turned into opportunities.
  2. b) Hobbies and interests tell what you like and can do. This might be positive for a job position and they can create fully new opportunities, for instance making coaching videos might help you to embark on a career as an online psychotherapist. Yet, more importantly, they tell what soft skills you have, for instance team sports may tell about leadership and team player qualities, dancing about self-discipline and volunteer work about networks.
  3. c) Positions etc.: for example, a responsible role in the student union can tell about your willingness to take responsibility.
  4. d) Feedback from others, feedback from assignments, co-workers, people linked to hobbies… What kind of feedback do you get in different settings? What tasks do you end up doing? For instance, are you reliable or do you have good planning skills? Sometimes you might even spot soft skills and characteristics from what irritates you in others. For instance, if you are always on time, others being late might irritate you.
  5. e) Previous and current work experiences may indeed tell a lot about your soft skills and attitude towards work, and different professions in general. For instance, just imagine how many different kinds of people one meets when working in an ice-cream bar? Besides learning about people, one learns how to communicate with them, and about consumption habits. How about if a psychology student would have a job in a pub during studies as pubs are places where one can pour the heart out? That could even provide plenty of topics for research.
  6. f) Emotions, reactions and personality. How do you react to things and what does it tell you about yourself? Are you the one who listens? Well congratulations, the ability to listen, reliability and loyalty are some of the most important traits in a worker and also having the willingness to learn.
  7. g) Learning from others. What have you learnt from others? Has tacit knowledge (often based on experience) been passed on to you?
  8. h) Family and skills For instance, what have you learnt from your grandparents? We often carry on attitudes which come from our families.
  9. i) Finding the plot, the common factor underneath your skill character. One might do many different things which often have a common unifying factor underneath. For instance, one can be an artist, a film maker and a designer, but when looking at the common factor, the person is a creative interpreter and storyteller of the surrounding society and its phenomena. What are your common factors?
  10. j) Work situation analysis: Mind map and categorise situations at work. map and list things first, and then analyse them. Mark all similar skills and competences with the same colour or by grouping them (if you use for instance post it notes). This can help you to reveal your skills.
  11. k) Add any other that comes to your mind.

2. Choosing from the list above, think about three situations, write them down as a narration and detect soft skills in them. You can make notes, mark them in another colour, or whichever works best for you.

3. Now tell these stories to someone (1-3 persons) you know and ask them to tell which are your soft skills based on these stories. Write them down.

4. Compare your list of soft skills to the list of soft skills your friend made of you. What do you have in common? What is different? What did your friend/friends detect in you that you would have not thought? Are there any blind spots? Were there any differences between your friends (if talking to more than 1 person)? What did you learn about yourself? You can also discuss your soft skills further with your friends.

This way you can detect soft skills within you. Besides recognising soft skills, this will also increase the self-awareness of your strengths and improvement opportunities.

 

Exercise 2: Probing Soft Skills

Overview:

In this exercise you will detect, probe, soft skills in your daily life. This exercise can continue for as long as you want.

Estimated time to complete: 15 – 45 minutes

Materials needed:

    • Paper, a journal or a notebook, any material to take notes

    • Pens

Difficulty: Medium

The activity:

  1. Start keeping a journal to probe situations where you manifest soft skills. Probing means self-documenting everyday lives, and reflecting on the outcomes.
  2. For each probe, document, tell, what happened and afterwards, analyse the soft skills and tendencies from it by yourself or with someone. Take this one step further and think also how these findings could be beneficial for your work or career. You can also think of the purpose, for instance, if you are underemployed, what do you detect at your underemployed position?
  3. Keep the journal for as long as you wish. You can also add the examples from the Reboot skills modules and use them in career flexibility and portfolio structuring,

 

Next steps and evidence-based stories

You can now move onto the skills modules and think about examples of when you have demonstrated these soft skills.