Soft Skills are a myth

If you’ve ever been on either side of the interview table, the question of “Soft Skills” has most likely come up. Ambiguous or direct, we all sometimes speak in the “Soft Skills” vernacular of those around us. Mentally checking yet another proverbial box in the interview process. However we may be approaching the interview, and the interviewee in the entirely wrong way.

Stop checking the box on Soft Skills: Image courtesy of

But first how does the dictionary define soft skills?

desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude — Collins Dictionary

What is traditionally called a soft skill?

  • Communication
  • Self-Motivation
  • Leadership
  • Responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Decisiveness
  • Time Management
  • Flexibility
  • Conflict Resolution

Why soft skills are a myth

Looking to the definition provided by the Collins Dictionary it gives us cause to take a moment to pause, are any of the skills we consider soft skills 100% innate abilities? Were any of us born with un-paralleled time management skills? These are skills that we learn and develop to varying degrees as we grow as individuals. Compared to “hard skills” like typing, math, and cooking, is the pattern for learning and developing really that different? Measurement, that’s the difference. Hard skills can be measured, right? All skills can be measured it just depends on how you quantify the measurement. Looking at team work for example, between peer feedback and examining visible / non-visible contributions someone’s ability to work in a team can be quantified.

What knowledge can we acquire to better round our skill set?

The first step we can take to acquiring knowledge is first recognizing that we need to have a beginners mind. Unencumbered by assumptions around soft skills vs hard skills we can begin to look at ourselves as a puzzle. As individuals, our skills, strengths and weaknesses are all different.

Skills are a piece of the puzzle that makes you, you. Image courtesy of

There are many ways to work on rounding your skills:

  • Pause for a few moments and analyze yourself. Some skills can be honed through thought and exercise in the mind alone.
  • Find and follow people who have the skills you’re lacking who are active on social media and follow them. Social media is a powerful avenue for connecting with people who can help you grow.
  • Ask for feedback from those around you. Take a few moments to ask for feedback and listen, not just hear, listen to that feedback. Each piece of feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Positive and negative are both extremely helpful.
  • Read blogs and books. There are centuries of knowledge and wisdom in the written word. Challenge your self to read a book a month on the skills you struggle with the most.

Where can you go to learn more?

Make sure you catch April Wensel’s talk on “Emotionally Intelligent Engineering” at ngAtlanta where she will help you further develop quite a few skills by sharing “how to understand and manage your emotions to reduce stress, learn more efficiently, and collaborate more effectively with people on your team”.

Use the discount code of “Medium” for 10% off tickets to ngAtlanta.