Seth Godin on “Soft” Skills

Let’s get things straight: they’re not soft skills. They’re anything but. So claims best-selling author Seth Godin, who abhors the reliance on a linear scale that companies tend to adopt as they consider new and current employees.

“For what is the self-complacent man but a slave to his own self-praise.” – St. Augustine, City of God(in). Image via dillythebun on Instagram.

It’s easy to measure based on a linear scale, Godin says, but the problem is that the scale only extends as far as what he calls “vocational skills.” These are textbook skills–the terms and definitions and strategies one would find on an exam. There is nothing wrong with vocational skills, of course; after all, a coder who cannot properly code is going to struggle if a company hires them for a position in that area. But those unquantifiable skills–“soft skills,” as they are often known–are not getting sufficient recognition in business and organizations. Charisma, diligence, contribution, and communication abilities all fall under this category. Things like critical thinking that a person learns away from the textbook.

Godin’s solution?

So lets uncomfortably call them real skills instead.

Real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need to today.

Real because even if you’ve got the vocational skills, you’re no help to us without these human skills, the things that we cant write down, or program a computer to do.

Real skills cant replace vocational skills, of course not. What they can do is amplify the things you’ve already been measuring.

The author doesn’t stop there. He creates five categories, providing an exhaustive list of skills pertaining to each, which then dissolves into a plug for his 4-week intensive workshop. Still, although Godin focuses on its application to the workforce, this list is useful in our own self-improvement. What do we value in ourselves, for example–our vocational skills or our soft/real skills? Do we place enough importance in both areas of our lives?

Read the rest of Seth Godin’s blog post here.

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