Can we Stop calling them Soft Skills?

I could stop there, but I’ll go on.

I work in technology and all I have heard for years is how developers need to work on their soft skills to become better leaders, coaches, and mentors. That to grow, they need to level up their soft skills first and then reach for that next milestone.

I don’t care about the history of these skills or why we call them soft, but we really need to stop.

Because they are not soft.

They are are not easy.

They are not weak or fragile.

They are hard to learn, harder to master and they are the sum total of all our other skills. These skills are not there to compliment the work we do, they are engrained within the work we do now, the code we write, the bugs we fix.

See a bug and decide to fix it without logging it? Looks like you just got your Leadership skill on.

Your podmate (cubicle, bean bag chair, etc) asked for some help in integrating that new library? Looks like you’re about to master the subtle art of Coaching and not Telling.

When you were writing that new feature did you add in some little bits of value and general awesomeness to make that feature leap right off the screen at your user? You just showed Initiative, Decisiveness, and Commitment to creating a world-class product.

Are you learning node.js having always been a database kind of guy so you can demonstrate how easily it can be integrated into your team’s codebase? Wow, on top of taking the Initiative, you are also working towards Collaborating and Communicating new ideas with your team.

Granted these skills are not easy to master, guess what none are. I’m learning to juggle and it’s hard, I wish it wasn’t but it was. I don’t call it “soft-juggling” though, it’s simply, plainly called juggling. (and it would be an insult to all jugglers everywhere if I did call it soft-juggling — which sounds bad as a whole too).

Just as learning AWS and Azure are new platforms and skills you might be diving into, so are Leadership, Collaboration, Initiative and every other word that gets called a “soft skill”.

But you’re already doing it, you’re already doing it in everything you code and you’re not standing up declaring to everyone what you finished coding and how you did, you’re simply doing it.

Just like all these other skills, there is no need for you to stand up and go “I have leadershiped” and you don’t, you sit down and you get the job done and let the work (read: code) speak for itself.

They aren’t soft skills, you’ve had them for years, you’re using them now and they are your skills that are making you an incredible developer.

Want more? I run BetaRover Inc, muse on The Sniffing Markers Podcast and purge all my thoughts on — have a peek, read or listen.