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Turns Out That Soft Skills Aren't So Soft After All

Is your workforce ready for the future?

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There is no doubt the world is changing with talk about AI and the impact it will have on the workplace. It's time to look at how you can equip yourself to be part of the workforce of the future and not only survive, but thrive ...

Equip your team to be part of the workforce of the future by honing their soft skills!

Equip your team to be part of the workforce of the future by honing their soft skills!

copyright: fsstock / 123rf

Currently, in six out of 10 occupations, more than 30% of activities are technically automatable. The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs study suggests that 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020 as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human workers.

Of course, there will be new jobs which means the importance of emotional and social intelligence to future workers is higher than ever as these skills are seen as a crucial way to differentiate the human workforce from a more automated one in the future.

Some new research shows that between the years 2000 and 2012, jobs that require soft skills such as the ability to communicate and work in teams, grew much faster than jobs requiring tech or STEM skills.

It seems we are still working on the job market picture from the period 1980 to 2000 instead, when everything was about growth in STEM occupations. Things went into reverse over the last 18 years, but we are still putting emphasis on training and developing people in these areas instead of what is going to help them be competitive in the new world ... the soft skills.

What soft skills are needed most? Having spent my whole training career of nearly 25 years running workshops on soft skills, I think I am in a good place to suggest two that have always been vital and will continue to be in the future.

  • Active listening skills

    If I had one pound for everyone who said they didn't realise how bad their listening was after one of our workshops, I would be a wealthy lady. Most of us don't have any awareness of how we are listening, mostly we are listening to respond and not to understand.

    We are distracted and not present a good percentage of the time and that's not accounting for mobile phones that are the curse of modern human communication (don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone as much as the next person, but not when I'm out with my family for dinner or in a team meeting with colleagues).

    Awareness is the first thing you need, and then using questions, be curious and physically let go of any agenda helps to keep you grounded and in the moment. Simple tools and real practice make a significant difference and people really do stand out if they listen authentically. Whether you are in sales, customer service or are leaders of people, you can give yourself a real competitive edge. As Dale Carnegie said, "To be interesting, be interested".

  • Empathy

    You would have predicted it I'm sure, and yet empathy is so misunderstood. It's 'the ability to understand and share the feelings of another', Yes, that's true, but if it were just about feelings it wouldn't necessarily lead you to treat anyone better. On the contrary: the best torturers are those who can anticipate and intuit what their victims most fear, and tailor their actions accordingly.

    Empathy is the noun, but to empathise is a verb that means being active and doing something. Listening is one such action (see above) doing something supportive is another. I remember when I was younger my 16-year old daughter went missing for two weeks and everyone told me they felt for me and understood my pain.

    But one neighbour said, "Let me have the younger ones every afternoon after school, I can do something with them take their minds off it and give you time to chase and follow up any leads for your business". That's empathising, and it's an act I have never forgotten (we did find my daughter shortly after by the way).

In a world where currently science, technology, hard skills and IQ are valued so highly it's now time to give the same if not more importance to soft skills.

"Equip yourself to stand out by being more human!"

If you'd like to find out more about soft skills and how Dramatic Training Solutions can help your team hone them ready for the future, do give me a call on 01908 511 062 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...


More about Debra Stevens ...

I'm the founder of DTS, which was established in 1996. A highly successful experiential training company specialising in facilitating behavioural change in all aspects of dealings with people, whether in customer service, sales, management or with colleagues and teammates.

I've managed large contracts such as Pearson Education, Coca Cola, Penguin Books, Accenture, and Santander for over 21 years and have built up excellent relationships with key sponsors of all aspects of the businesses.

I'm a successful trainer, writer and speaker with nearly 30 years' experience of training people at all levels.


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